Labour fully committed to HS2 Eastern leg, says Keir Starmer in York railway station visit

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for the Government to commit to building HS2 and ensure vital infrastructure is in place to boost the North’s beleagured rail network.

In a newly-released video recorded on Thursday last week as he visited York station, Sir Keir said HS2 was “exactly what we need across Yorkshire and yet the Prime Minister is failing to deliver on his promises”.

There have been growing rumours that the HS2 eastern leg from Birmingham to Leeds will be mothballed in the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan, which would have a knock-on effect on running high-speed services on existing lines to York and the North East.

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“After a day spent at Sheffield steelworks this morning and then in the rural communities at a farm this afternoon, I’m now here at York station which is at the centre of Northern Powerhouse Rail and absolutely important on the HS2 Eastern leg,” Sir Keir said in the video.

Keir Starmer at York railway station last week.

“It is so important for communities here, so important for the local economy, for high-skilled jobs – exactly what we need across Yorkshire and yet the Prime Minister is failing to deliver on his promises.

“He says he’ll level up – it is a slogan. Labour is fully committed to HS2, particularly the Northern Eastern wing of it. We will work with local leaders, with mayors and with communities to make it work for Yorkshire, for the region, for communities, for the local economy and for you.”

Preparatory work on the Eastern leg of HS2 between Birmingham and Leeds has been put on hold pending the publication of the Government’s long-awaited Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), which was originally due to be published last year but is now expected in the coming weeks.

One element of the IRP is considering the sequencing of the delivery of the eastern leg route and how it works alongside plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail – a £43bn project to introduce new high-speed links between Northern cities.

It has led to concerns the eastern leg will effectively be extensively delayed or never come to fruition. There have also been recent reports claiming Northern Powerhouse Rail will be downgraded, with no direct Bradford link as had been hoped.

A Government spokesperson said: “The IRP will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b and other transformational projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the North and Midlands need and deserve.”

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