Claims Leeds leg of HS2 is to be scrapped 'simply not true', says Minister Andrew Stephenson

A government Minister says it is "simply untrue" to say the Eastern leg of HS2 going through Leeds and Yorkshire is to be scrapped.

High speed rail Minister Andrew Stephenson tweeted in response to claims by Labour's former transport secretary Lord Adonis, who said the Government was "delaying indefinitely" the Yorkshire leg of the controversial project.

Plans for HS2 involve Phase 1 running from London to Birmingham, Phase 2a from Birmingham to Crewe, and Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and from Birmingham to Leeds.

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The Government says it is prioritising the Western Leg over the Yorkshire leg "as part of our overall commitment to improving connectivity to the North as quickly as we can".

Details of how HS2 and NPR, which will connect the big cities of the North but has yet to be approved by government, will connect with each other will be set out in the Integrated Rail Plan later this year.

Mr Stephenson wrote in a report: "On the Eastern Leg, the Government is considering the best approach to get the most benefit for Leeds, the North East, and the East Midlands as part of the IRP.

"I expect to respond separately to the Eastern Leg refinements after the IRP has been published."

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson at an HS2 site earlier this year. Pic: PAPrime Minister Boris Johnson at an HS2 site earlier this year. Pic: PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson at an HS2 site earlier this year. Pic: PA

Lord Adonis wrote on Twitter: "The Government is only now going ahead with the Manchester leg of HS2 and is delaying indefinitely the eastern leg to Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby.

"By deferring decisions on (the) eastern leg of HS2 while confirming (the) Manchester leg, the Leeds leg will probably not now go ahead. Phase 2b will probably become just Manchester."

But Mr Stephenson wrote in reply: "This is simply untrue."

He added: "We've always been clear that the Eastern leg is being considered under our Integrated Rail Plan, which by the end of the year will outline how we will deliver better more reliable services across the North and Midlands."

Alongside the announcement about the eastern leg, HS2 Ltd launched a consultation on proposals to expand Manchester's high-speed rail platforms.

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HS2 Ltd is also proposing to enhance its plans for Crewe station to enable it to be served by more HS2 services, and to build a train depot at Annandale, in Dumfries and Galloway.

Tim Wood, a director at Transport for the North, a cross-party group of northern leaders, said: “We absolutely want to see the HS2 eastern leg developed. It dovetails entirely with our plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and would deliver unrivalled rail connectivity to communities.

"That’s not only better and faster services to the likes of Leeds and Sheffield, but further beyond to York, the North East and up to Scotland."

In February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to run HS2 services to Leeds as he vowed to go ahead with the programme despite opposition from Tory backbenchers and spiralling costs.

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