Existing rail links ‘must not suffer as HS2 built’

Metro chairman James Lewis
Metro chairman James Lewis
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PLANS for a new high speed rail link to Yorkshire should not be at the expense of investment in the existing intercity rail network, the Government has been told.

North Yorkshire County Council has backed the line, known as HS2, in principle, but called for the protection of local services and spending on the East Coast Main Line.

It has told the Government: “There should be no detrimental impact on frequency, journey times or connectivity to any of the rail services that serve North Yorkshire in the lead up or as a result of the introduction of HS2.

“For North Yorkshire the links across the North whether city links or local services are as important as our links to London and these must be maintained and improved.

“There must be continued investment in the East Coast Main Line to ensure that it continues to develop and grow and be seen as part of the overall option for rail journeys in the future.

“The East Coast Main Line must also still serve those communities that are not served directly by HS2 maintaining high quality service and connectivity they expect.”

In its response to a consultation on the second phase of HS2 between Birmingham and Yorkshire, the county council has suggested services could continue north of Leeds on the existing network to serve Northallerton.

It also argues space freed on the East Coast Main Line could be used for services between Harrogate and Scarborough to London.

The county is particularly concerned about plans for the route which will see the new line split to the east of Leeds with one spur heading into the centre of the city and another continuing north before connecting with the existing line to York.

The county council has said the proposal will have a “significant impact on the local community, especially visually” around the village of Ulleskelf and needs to change.

There are also worries that the new city centre station for HS2, known as New Lane, will be too far from the existing Leeds station making connections difficult.

The authority has suggested a covered moving walkway, similar to those commonly found in large airports, maybe needed through the city centre to make it as easy as possible for passengers carrying luggage to transfer from local and intercity service to the HS2 line.

It makes the case for investment in York Station arguing that it will be the main way many of the county’s residents access HS2.

The county also reiterates the proposals from the Leeds City Region group of councils, revealed by the Yorkshire Post last year, calling for the new line to be built from the North, spending on local transport links to maximise the benefits and control of the cost which is currently put at around £46m.

The Government has set out plans for a new college to teach future engineers the skills needed to construct HS2 and yesterday Metro, the passenger transport authority in West Yorkshire, said that this region would be the ideal location.

Metro chairman James Lewis said: “The Leeds City Region Skills Network is made up of 14 further education colleges, nine higher education institutions and private and voluntary sector skills providers from across Leeds City Region working together to meet the needs of employers and the city region economy, so would be well placed to work with HS2 on the development of the new college.

“However, the news that the college will work in partnership with existing further and higher education providers across the UK, means that wherever it is, young people from West Yorkshire and the Leeds City region will have opportunities to forge careers in HS2 and other future infrastructure projects across the country.”

On the current schedule HS2 services are due to start to Yorkshire in 2032.

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