Grant Shapps says passengers will 'see HS2 trains rolling into Leeds'

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has assured passengers they will one day “see HS2 trains rolling into Leeds”.

Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 4:31 pm
An artists impression of what the new HS2 trains could look like. Manufacturers Hitachi and Alstom have signed a £2bn contract to build a fleet of trains to serve the new network.
An artists impression of what the new HS2 trains could look like. Manufacturers Hitachi and Alstom have signed a £2bn contract to build a fleet of trains to serve the new network.

The Government appeared to scale back plans for the high-speed line in November, 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”.

It also said some of the funding would be used to find “the most optimal solution” for capacity issues at Leeds station and begin work on the West Yorkshire Mass Transit System.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he is committed to ensuring HS2 trains reach Leeds

Eight months later, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and other Northern leaders are calling on the Government to provide an update on the study and publish the terms of reference.

Mr Shapps said the Government will provide an update “soon”, but it has not set a date.

“The Government's commitment is absolute to getting HS2 trains to Leeds,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “I know that's really important for a lot of folks in Leeds.

“You've seen the continuous investment in Leeds that we've been making, including some pretty recently in the last two or three months to complete upgrades to the station. We want to make sure that continues.

“You will see HS2 trains rolling into Leeds and this preferred route study – we will be getting started on that very shortly.”

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Under the original plans for HS2, the eastern leg would have been built between Birmingham and Leeds by 2033. But the deadline was then pushed back to between 2035 and 2040.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson has previously said the HS2 line could be built as originally planned in Yorkshire and he does not want any land – that was bought to pave the way for the original route – to be released until the study is complete.

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

It comes after the Government scrapped the £3bn connection between HS2 and the West Coast Main Line.

The 13-mile line link would have left the high-speed line between Crewe and Manchester and cut through Trafford to join the West Coast Main Line to the south of Wigan.

Mr Stephenson said the Government will explore alternatives for how HS2 trains will reach Scotland.

In November, the Government also revealed plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) had been changed.

Transport for the North, which was preparing the business case for the project, called for a new high-speed line to be built between Leeds and Manchester, with a stop in Bradford, and a new line from Warrington to Liverpool and an underground station at Manchester Piccadilly.

But the Government, which decided to take charge of the project in November, instead opted to spend £17.2bn on building a 40-mile line between Warrington and Marsden, and upgrade the Transpennine Route. It also refused to build the Manchester Piccadilly underground.

It said Transport for the North’s preferred option would cost an extra £18bn, shave just four minutes off a trip from Manchester to Leeds and not be operational until 2043.

Under the current plans, the Government expects some NPR services to “start running this decade” and the train journey from Manchester to Leeds will be cut by 22 minutes, to 33 minutes.