New track around Leeds station to open up a wider range of high speed rail services through the city will be one of the projects funded by £300m announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond, The Yorkshire Post has learned.
The money will help pay for an extra piece of track which will allow services arriving on the proposed HS2 high speed line to stop at the existing platforms at Leeds station, paving the way for smooth onward services to Manchester and the North-East.
Under previous plans high speed trains were only due to stop at new platforms stretching south towards the river which will be built as part of a major overhaul of Leeds station in the coming years.
Chancellor Philip Hammond last week announced the money to help future-proof the North rail network and ensure HS2 is with Northern Powerhouse Rail - an emerging plan for an east-west high speed rail service.
And The Yorkshire Post has now been told Transport Secretary Chris Grayling expects the extra track at Leeds will be one of the projects it will support.
Leeds Chamber of Commerce has been campaigning for
Paula Dillon, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “The commitment by Chancellor Philip Hammond to provide £300m to ensure passive provision for HS2 to connect with the proposed high speed east-west Northern Powerhouse Rail is extremely welcome.
“We have always maintained that HS2 must be built as part of a network rather than a standalone piece of infrastructure so it is really important that consideration, and funding is made available.
“In Leeds the ‘hook’ solution will ensure that an expanded Leeds station will be at the heart of a high speed rail network rather than at the end of the line.
“Our own analysis has shown that the ability for high speed trains to pass through the enhanced station will put somewhere in the region of 10 million people within an hour’s commute of Leeds City Centre, meaning companies in the city can draw from the largest possible talent base.”
The existing plans for HS2 will see the line snake into Leeds city centre from the south east and deliver trains to new north-south platforms in line with Neville Street.
The additional piece of track will split from the HS2 line and take a curve to the west of the station and bring services into the existing east-west platforms.
It will allow for a much greater range of direct high speed services.