Government ‘fully committed’ to ensuring HS2 trains reach Leeds

The government sparked a backlash when it appeared to cut plans for the high-speed line in November as part of its £96billion Integrated Rail Plan (IRP).

According to the plan, the eastern part of HS2 will stop at East Midlands Parkway, but trains will then run on an existing line to Sheffield and £100m will be spent on a study which “will examine the most efficient way of running HS2 trains”. in Leeds”.

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Andrew Stephenson, Minister for HS2, said the scheme has proven hugely controversial and many people in Yorkshire have opposed the original plans, but he still wants to see services reach Leeds and the study will determine “the best way to do it”.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson

“I am totally committed to the arrival of HS2 trains in Leeds,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“The existing plans are still there and the land is still saved.

“While this study indicates that the initial plan is the best way forward, there is nothing preventing us from constructing the eastern section as originally proposed.”

Mr Stephenson said the government will advise when the study is due to take place “very soon” and that he does not want land – which was bought to pave the way for the original road in Yorkshire – be released until this study is completed. .

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He said: “I don’t want to rule out any options at this stage. We need to look at existing plans. We need to look at upgrade plans, but we also need to look at hybrid plans, where some of them will be new tracks and some will be upgrades.

“We want to see better rail services, we want to see more resilience, we want to see more capacity. But we also want to see leveling and regeneration happening.

“This study will look at all of that and come up with a solution. As soon as it’s done, we can make a decision on the backup – I don’t want to keep it indefinitely.

Mr Stephenson is also the minister in charge of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), and he insisted the high-speed rail project will improve connectivity for passengers, reduce journey times and significantly increase capacity.

The government has pledged £17.2bn for a 40-mile high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and Marsden in Yorkshire.

It also opted to upgrade and electrify the existing Transpennine Mainline as part of a £5.4billion scheme, but refused to build a new line between Leeds and Liverpool, which Transport for the North (TfN) had claimed.

The government said building the NPR line suggested by TfN would cost an additional £18billion, open in 2043 and cut just four minutes from the journey between Manchester and Leeds.

But it also says that under the new plans some NPR trains will start running this decade, and journeys between Manchester and Leeds will be 22 minutes faster.

According to the 162-page Integrated Rail Plan Plan, the upgrades will reduce journey times from Leeds to Liverpool to 73 minutes (currently 106) and Leeds to Bradford to 12 minutes (currently 20).

Transport for the North is still working on its preferred plans for the high-speed rail network and exploring other funding options, after meeting with Department of Transport officials.

Mr Stephenson said he was “more than happy” to listen to proposals for additional infrastructure funded by the private sector.

He added: ‘What we have said in the integrated rail plan is that this is the core network that we are investing in, but we are happy to take an adaptive approach if people want to come up with different ideas. and different ways of seeing. the things and means of bringing finance to the private sector.

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