Government urged to rethink changes to HS2 rollout amid calls to back Leeds station redevelopment

The Government has been urged to reconsider its decision to scale back the rollout of the HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail upgrades and fully back plans to redevelop Leeds station.

By Alex Grant
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 4:45 am

After conducting a detailed review of the £96bn Integrated Rail Plan, the Parliament Transport Committee said it “has the potential to transform rail travel for future generations” but also “left some towns and cities very disappointed”.

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Transport for the North has welcomed the findings of a House of Commons report, which calls for the government to reassess its plans for rail investment across the North and Midlands.

Full financial backing to the long proposed redevelopment of Leeds station was among a host of recommendations made by the committee. Picture: Simon Hulme.

Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said:

“This report is a vindication of what TfN has been calling for some time. London and the South East has seen vast sums spent on HS1, the first phase of HS2, on the new Elizabeth Line, and the Thameslink upgrade.

"Meanwhile the North’s ageing and creaking rail network has had little in the way of new infrastructure or expansion of services.”

Full financial backing to the long proposed redevelopment of Leeds station was among a host of recommendations made by the committee.

It said the Government must commit to supporting the redevelopment of Leeds station by 2035, so that it has the capacity to accommodate additional services.

"We fully support the committee’s call for an underground station at Manchester to be re-examined and to commit to the redevelopment of Leeds station.” Mr Tugwell added.

The report also said the Government must, by September, set out its timetable on how best to take HS2 to Leeds

“This work is urgently needed to demonstrate that the commitment made to Leeds for high speed connections will be fulfilled.” the report read.

Transformation of the rail network is at the heart of realising the North’s economic potential, of connecting people to opportunities and making real progress in decarbonising our transport system.

The recommendations of the committee have been welcomed by Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, who has long been vocal of her support for the HS2 line.

“We’ve been waiting eight months for Government to start work on how to bring HS2 to Leeds, so I welcome the report’s recommendation that a timetable for this work, including a firm date for the final report, be published by September 2022,” she said.

“This is essential for demonstrating that the commitment made to Leeds for high-speed connections will be fulfilled.

“It’s also vital that the Government commits to supporting redevelopment of Leeds station by 2035 so that it has sufficient capacity to accommodate services planned under the IRP, including HS2 trains arriving in Leeds.”

The Government previously changed the plan for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and broke a promise, outlined in its 2019 manifesto, to build the line between Leeds and Manchester.

It has instead opted to build a 40-mile line between Warrington and Marsden and upgrade the Transpennine Route.

"The business case of HS2 was based on it going east to Leeds,” said Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP.

“For these cities, and the taxpayer as a whole, the Government must demonstrate the rationale for its decisions."