HS2 could come to Leeds 'faster than expected' claims council leader

Ideas about how to improve HS2's planned eastern leg between Birmingham and Leeds have been drawn up by the city's political leaders.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 3:10 pm

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said those involved believed their plans would allow the second phase of the high speed rail scheme to be delivered faster than expected.

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Her comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson today confirmed that HS2 would go ahead in its entirety, with a new full-time minister appointed to oversee its delivery.

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The Government has given its backing for the HS2 scheme to go ahead in full. Picture: HS2/PA Wire

Mr Johnson said that while HS2 Ltd "focus solely" on building the railway between London and Crewe, "new delivery arrangements" will be created for the Phase 2b stretches from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds.

He added that the Government will "look at how we can best design and integrate rail investments across the North, including Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester."

The Yorkshire Evening Post's Unlock the Gridlock campaign has been highlighting the need for political leaders at local and government level to work together to tackle transport issues holding back our city.

Coun Blake, who is also West Yorkshire Combined Authority's transport lead, said: “HS2 is a critical component of our established plans to transform the region, so we very much welcome the government’s go-ahead to deliver the project in full today.

“We look forward to working with the government on the review of the eastern leg, with work then starting as soon as possible to deliver it for the benefit of all our communities.

“In looking again at the project, which the Prime Minister referenced, we have our own plans and ideas to improve the eastern leg and allow it to be delivered faster which we would be keen to discuss with him and the new HS2 Minister."

In the Commons, Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn quizzed the Prime Minister about when Leeds could expect its new HS2 station to be built.

Mr Johnson simply told him it would be "as soon as possible", prompting Mr Benn to later tweet: "We now need to make sure that the new review of phase 2b to Leeds does not result in further delay in the opening of the Leeds HS2 station."

Meanwhile, Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke asked for the review to properly consider the station's location and make sure it takes into account the ability to use existing rail routes and infrastructure.

He later wrote on Facebook: "I've said a lot about HS2 over the years but the problem remains that Leeds City Council backed a costly station configuration that causes unnecessary destruction and cost in Woodlesford, Swillington and Garforth."