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Eastern phase of HS2 ‘is suspended’ with Grant Shapps prioritizing new line from Leeds to Manchester

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Eastern phase of HS2 ‘is suspended’ with transport secretary Grant Shapps prioritizing new Leeds to Manchester Northern Powerhouse line under Boris Johnson’s grading plans

  • Transport secretary added to speculation about the future of the eastern leg
  • Signaled a potential major rethink of the Birmingham-Leeds project
  • Warned ministers will not ‘blindly’ follow plans drawn up almost 20 years ago










Grant Shapps has signaled that the eastern section of the controversial HS2 rail line could be demolished in favor of improving services to the north as part of Boris Johnson’s Leveling Up agenda.

Adding to growing speculation about the future of the eastern section of the high-speed line from London, the transport minister said ministers will not “blindly” follow plans drawn up nearly two decades ago.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he indicated that a major rethink of the Birmingham-Leeds project could be in order, with a greater focus on connecting cities in the North and Midlands.

Poor quality and expensive east-west train services have long been a specter of politicians in the regions, who claim they are a major factor in slowing economic growth.

Mr Shapps told the paper: ‘We want to make sure we get trains to Leeds in a way that really benefits the people on the network and not blindly follow a plan devised 15 to 20 years ago that is no longer benefits for people.’

Construction work on phase one of the London to Birmingham high speed rail project is underway. But the plan is not popular with the Tories in the counties.

Adding to growing speculation about the future of the eastern section of the high-speed line from London, the transport minister said ministers will not “blindly” follow plans drawn up nearly two decades ago.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he indicated that a major rethink of the Birmingham-Leeds project could be in order, with a greater focus on connecting cities in the North and Midlands.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he indicated that a major rethink of the Birmingham-Leeds project could be in order, with a greater focus on connecting cities in the North and Midlands.

Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak visiting a Network Rail construction site in Manchester today

Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak visiting a Network Rail construction site in Manchester today

Phase 2a is planned to run from Birmingham to Crewe, and phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and from Birmingham to Leeds.

But after the government-commissioned Oakervee Review warned last year that the final bill for HS2 could reach £106bn at 2019 prices, there were concerns that the eastern section of phase 2b could be scrapped.

This was compounded when the National Infrastructure Commission said in December that the focus should be on regional connectivity.

Mr Shapps told the Financial Times that the creation of the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) scheme, which aims to connect cities in the region on an east-west route, should also be considered.

He said: ‘Midlands Rail Hub and Northern Powerhouse Rail are things… they were invented, they weren’t when HS2 was first designed.

“We have to do these things together. Are we doing things in the best way and in the right order?’

Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon called Mr Shapps’ comments “insulting.”

“You can’t trust a word the Tories say,” he said. “Expecting people to accept endless repetitions of promises made years ago is insulting.

Poor transport links continue to hold back the North, the Midlands and beyond and the Conservatives’ record is one of utter failure.

“Communities that suffer again – thanks to the government’s incompetence and inability to keep projects on track – will rightfully feel betrayed by yet another broken promise disguised as a new announcement.”

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