Grant Shapps signals that HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds could be at risk as ministers will not 'blindly follow' years-old plans

The Transport Secretary has signalled that the Eastern Leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds could be at risk as ministers would no longer “blindly follow” years-old plans.

File photo dated 15/09/21 of Grant Shapps in Downing Street, London (PA)

Grant Shapps has suggested that rail services need to “work together” with other recent infrastructure plans such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, with Government expected to announce a delay to the Midlands to Yorkshire branch shortly.

According to reporting in the Financial Times, priority will instead be given to the Manchester to Leeds Northern Powerhouse Rail project, which will be nicknamed HS3.

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The HS2 link between Birmingham and Manchester will still be built, it is thought.

In an interview with the broadsheet newspaper today, Mr Shapps said: “We want to make sure we get trains to Leeds in a way that actually benefits people on the network and not blindly follow some plan invented 15 to 20 years ago that no longer benefits people.”

He added: “Midlands Rail Hub and Northern Powerhouse Rail are things, they’ve been invented, they hadn’t been when HS2 was first designed.

“We need to work these things together.

“Are we doing things in the best way and in the right order?”

Labour has reacted furiously to the news of a potential rethink, and said that communities will feel “betrayed” by the broken promises.

Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon said that asking people to “accept endless” reworking of promises is “insulting” and added: "Poor transport connectivity continues to hold back the North, Midlands and beyond and the Conservatives' record is one of total failure to deliver.

“Communities that stand to lose out once again – thanks to the Government’s incompetence and inability to keep projects on track - will rightly feel betrayed by yet another broken promise dressed up as a new announcement."