Northern leaders eager to see £100m study on bringing HS2 trains to Leeds begin

Northern leaders will urge the Government to press ahead with a £100m study which will explore options for bringing HS2 trains to Leeds next week, following a seven-month delay

Ministers were heavily criticised when they appeared to scale back plans for the high-speed line in November and cut Leeds from the route, as part of its £96bn Integrated Rail Plan (IRP).

According to the plan, the eastern leg of HS2 will stop at East Midlands Parkway, but trains will then run on an existing line to Sheffield and £100m will be spent on a study that will “look at the most effective way to run HS2 trains to Leeds”.

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However, the Department of Transport has still not revealed when that long-awaited study will begin.

The Government said it remains committed to ensuring HS2 trains reach LeedsThe Government said it remains committed to ensuring HS2 trains reach Leeds
The Government said it remains committed to ensuring HS2 trains reach Leeds

Political leaders across the North will call on the Government to launch the study, at a Transport for the North (TfN) board meeting on Thursday.

Transport for the North (TfN) said it “is essential” that the terms of reference for that study are published and “work is taken forward at pace.”

Lord Patrick McLoughlin, chair of TfN, is planning to write to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and call on him to ensure the study is completed as soon as possible.

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West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, who sits on the board, has already said people in Leeds have been “in limbo” as they wait to find out whether HS2 trains will ever reach the city.

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Andrew Stephenson, Minister for HS2, told The Yorkshire Post in February he is “completely committed” to ensuring HS2 trains reach Leeds and the line could be built as originally planned.

He said the study will look at the original plans, upgrades to existing lines and a hybrid approach.

The Government sparked a backlash earlier this month when it decided to cut the 13-mile Golborne Link in Greater Manchester from Phase 2b of the project, even though it was included in the IRP.

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It would have left the line between Crewe and Manchester and cut through Trafford to join the West Coast Main Line to the south of Wigan.

That controversial decision and the rising overall cost of HS2 were discussed when MPs debated proposed legislation on building the line between Crewe and Manchester earlier this week.

During Monday’s debate in the House of Commons, former cabinet minister Esther McVey said the new high-speed railway should be “consigned to the history books”, amid fears it could cost more than £150bn.

Transport Minister Wendy Morton sought to reassure the Commons that HS2 did not have a “blank chequebook” and the project will be delivered “within budget”.

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The Government-commissioned Oakervee Review warned in 2020 that the final bill for HS2 could reach £106bn at 2019 prices.

MPs voted 205 to six, majority 199, to give the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill a second reading.

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