HS2 Eastern leg doubts 'holding back investment in Yorkshire'

Investment in Yorkshire is being held back by the continuing uncertainty over whether the eastern leg to Leeds will ever go ahead, a HS2 executive has warned.

Work on HS2 is already under way in the South but there are doubts over whether the line will ever reach Yorkshire.

Lorna Pimlott, HS2 Phase 2b sponsorship director, said that the confirmed phase one route from London to Birmingham has resulted in £20bn worth of investment being committed to the latter city already.

But work on the eastern leg of the route between Birmingham and Leeds has been suspended while the outcome of the Government’s delayed Integrated Rail Plan is announced and there have been increasing rumours the route could be scrapped or mothballed due to cost concerns.

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HS2 has been asked to continue work on developing the potential Western leg of the second phase between Crewe and Manchester, with an aim of putting the plans before Parliament early next year.

Speaking at the Transport for the North conference in Leeds on Monday, Ms Pimlott said: “One of the key benefits of HS2 is regeneration and investment,” she said.

“What this level of uncertainty is currently doing is actually hindering that. Birmingham has that certainty. We see £20bn of investment forecast because of the improved connectivity with the region. We can’t secure that on the eastern leg.

“As of today, we can’t secure that fully on the western leg because they haven’t actually promised to build it yet but that said, we have been instructed to develop one and the market knows that and that in itself continues that momentum."

Speaking at a separate webinar event yesterday advising businesses on how to get involved with the high-speed rail line, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said details about the future of the eastern leg would be set out “in due course”.

He said: “HS2 is now under way. There’s lots of debate in The Yorkshire Post and other regional newspapers about the exact configuration the Government will set out in due course more about the exact configuration of the northern sections, that’s being looked at as part of the Integrated Rail Plan, but we are cracking on with Phase One.”

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