Scrapping HS2 could jeopardise new fast rail links across Pennines, Yorkshire leaders say in letter to Chris Grayling

Yorkshire leaders have issued a plea for unity on HS2, arguing that if it is scrapped it could jeopardise plans for new faster east-west rail links across the Pennines.

The £56bn HS2 high speed rail project has faced rising criticism in recent weeks amid fears over delays and costs.

Some northern MPs have also suggested that phase two of the project to link Leeds and Manchester with London should be scrapped in favour of building cross-Pennine Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) more quickly.

But in a letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday, West Yorkshire leaders reaffirmed their support for both HS2 and NPR, arguing that one is integral to the other, and that together they will help create 40,000 jobs in the region.

Phase two of the HS2 high speed rail project to connect London with Leeds and Manchester (via Birmingham) will open in 2032-33.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) chair and Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “It is more important than ever that the region and the North of England as a whole speak with a united voice on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“Our plans to bring improved economic opportunities to all our communities are intrinsically linked to this investment in major infrastructure and it is essential that any uncertainty is removed.”

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “Following decades of underinvestment, these projects offer the chance to remove historic obstacles to inclusive growth and our focus should be on accelerating their delivery.”

Kim Groves, Chair of the WYCA Transport Committee, said: “HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are not only integral to our ambitions for the region, they are integral to each other, sharing track and junctions. Any move to scrap one would significantly damage plans for the other.

“Deciding not to go ahead with one or the other would be akin to having the M62 without the M1, illogical and detrimental to those communities left with poorer quality transport connections.”