'High-speed rail has never been about trains to London' - YEP Opinion
The Leader of Leeds City Council, councillor James Lewis, shares his thoughts after the cancellation of the Eastern Leeds leg of the HS2.
The government’s Integrated Rail Plan is greeted with disappointment and frustration at the failure to commit to new high-speed rail from both Manchester and the midlands into Leeds, alongside the news of funding to develop both mass transit and train services into Leeds and our station.
For us, high-speed rail has never been about trains to London; it’s about reaching local and regional cities.
We at least need high-speed rail to Sheffield, bringing immediate benefits to both cities and the communities in between, with additional capacity meaning local trains no longer competing for space with freight and express trains on two-track Victorian train lines.
Mass transit is positive but ‘Supertram’ has been talked about for 30 years, what we need is to quickly get spades in the ground.
The enhanced connectivity across our city and with neighbouring areas is much needed, and with 75 per cent of our city’s rail passengers travelling from outside our district – and passenger numbers already above pre-pandemic levels - we must also improve rail provision to accommodate immediate and future demand.
We recognise the uncertainty that the government’s further reviews and studies will create for residents and businesses.
We are asking for an urgent review of safeguarded land set aside by the government for potential transport projects across the city, bringing certainty for those affected.
Leeds always rises above setbacks like this to consistently deliver for the people and businesses of our city.
Over the last decade we made a plan to accommodate HS2’s arrival following the national government’s clear proposals so the city could continue to grow around it, and that we have.
We will use the opportunities afforded to us to continue our economic growth and recovery in a way that benefits everyone, and to make sure transport investment is delivered.
From: Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council