HS2 to Leeds axed while NPR route will stop at Yorkshire border, Grant Shapps confirms

The HS2 route to Leeds has been cancelled while a new Northern Powerhouse Rail high-speed line will only reach the edge of Yorkshire, Grant Shapps has confirmed.

Presenting the Integrated Rail Plan to Parliament, Transport Secretary Mr Shapps insisted the Government's plans represented "one of the biggest single acts of levelling up in history".

He confirmed that the HS2 Eastern leg will now not go ahead between Birmingham and Leeds as previously planned, with a new route instead between Birmingham and the East Midlands Parkway. HS2 trains will reach Yorkshire by getting to Sheffield - but only by travelling on the slower existing track rather than the line itself being built to South Yorkshire.

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There had been hopes that the Northern Powerhouse Rail route would involve a new high-speed line between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford. However, Mr Shapps said there will now be "a brand new high-speed line from Warrington to Manchester and to the western border of Yorkshire".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces the Integrated Rail Plan in Parliament.

The Department for Transport subsequently confirmed that NPR will involve a new high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester to Marsden in West Yorkshire.

The full electrification of the Midland Main Line between London and Sheffield has also been promised, as has the electrification of the Transpennine Main Line between Manchester, Leeds and York.

A mass transit system for Leeds has also been promised.

Mr Shapps said the integrated rail plan is an “ambitious and unparalleled programme” to overhaul inter-city links across the north and Midlands, and “speed up the benefits for local areas and serves destinations people most want to reach”.

The Transport Secretary told the Commons: “This new blueprint delivers three high-speed lines. First, that’s Crewe to Manchester.

“Second, Birmingham to the East Midlands with HS2 trains continuing to central Nottingham and central Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield on an upgraded mainline. And third, a brand new high-speed line from Warrington to Manchester and to the western border of Yorkshire – slashing journey times across the north.”

Laughter could be heard from Labour MPs at the reference to the “western border” of Yorkshire.

Mr Shapps said: “I’ve heard some people say that we’re just going about electrifying the TransPennine route – this is wrong.

“What we’re actually doing is investing £23 billion to deliver Northern Powerhouse rail and the TransPennine route upgrade, unlocking east-west travel across the north of England.

“So, in total, this package is 110 miles of new high-speed line, all of it in the midlands and the north.

“It’s 180 miles of newly-electrified line, all of it in the midlands and the north.”

He added: “We’ll upgrade the east coast mainline with a package of investment on track improvements and digital signalling, bringing down journey times between London, Leeds, Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh – bringing benefits to the North East much, much sooner than under the previous plans.”

Mr Shapps also said: “We’ll study how best to take HS2 trains into Leeds as well.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary described the integrated rail plan announcement as a “great train robbery”.

Mr McMahon added that the Government had “betrayed” the North.

The Oldham West and Royton MP said Boris Johnson had broken a promise on HS2 made “60 times” in the past few years, adding: “Boris Johnson was elected to level the playing fields, to make things better for households across the country.

“We were promised a Northern Powerhouse, we were promised a Midlands Engine, to be levelled up. But what we have been given today is a great train robbery.”

Labour’s frontbench also contested the £96 billion headline figure promised for northern rail projects in the Government’s integrated rail plan.

Mr McMahon said: “£96 billion, £40 billion of which has already been committed from London to Crewe, but is being labelled as investment across the North of England, and of the £56 billion that remains let us compare that to what the North of England would have got over the last decade had it had the same investment as London and the South-east: We are still £10 billion short.”

He added: “We are not going to accept crumbs off the table.”

Mr Shapps replied: “£96 billion expenditure. The single biggest ever investment.

“We haven’t made any secret of the fact that some of that money is already the Birmingham to Crewe line, the Crewe to Manchester line, last time I checked that benefits the Midlands and the North, doesn’t it?”

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