Fury as SIXTY miles of HS2 ‘won’t be laid’, with high-speed Birmingham-Leeds link ‘set to be scaled back’ as Boris is accused of abandoning his pledge to ‘level up’ the country
Boris Johnson was accused of abandoning his pledge to ‘level up’ the country last night as a major section of HS2 looks set to be ‘significantly scaled back’.
Northern leaders and the rail industry are braced for a downsizing of the UK’s biggest infrastructure project in a report expected to be published during or after the Cop26 summit.
High-speed rail linking Birmingham and Leeds, also known as the ‘eastern leg’, is no longer expected to be laid in full.
It means HS2 trains will run at slower speeds on existing track for as much as 60 miles of the distance between the two cities.
Journey times could take about an hour rather than 40 minutes, according to sources familiar with plans being considered by ministers.
However, a compromise is said to have been struck following pressure from pro-HS2 northern leaders which could still see around 80 miles of high-speed track laid.
A purpose-built hub in the village of Toton, in Nottinghamshire, would be scrapped. Instead, about 50 miles of high-speed rail would link Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway station.
Northern leaders and the rail industry are braced for a downsizing of the UK’s biggest infrastructure project in a report expected to be published during or after the Cop26 summit (Pictured: Boris Johnson on an HS2 site in September 2020)
Sources last night said the planned changes would represent a ‘significant scaling back’ of the project (Pictured: An artist’s impression of the HS2 train on the Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct)
A concept image of the proposed Old Oak Common Station, west London
At this point, HS2 trains would join the existing Midland main line, which would be upgraded.
This would take trains at a slower speed than envisaged up to the village of Clayton, in West Yorkshire, where around 30 miles of new high-speed rail would connect to Leeds.
Sources last night said the planned changes would represent a ‘significant scaling back’ of the project.
The proposals could save between £10billion and £20billion and comes after Treasury officials raised concerns about HS2’s spiralling costs, which have tripled to more than £100billion over the past decade.
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: ‘It calls the promise to level up into serious question.’
Jim McMahon, Labour’s transport spokesman, said: ‘If [Government] fail to deliver, people in the Midlands and North will rightly feel betrayed after years of empty words and meaningless slogans.’
HS2 will link London to Birmingham in phase one before forking into two sections. The western leg connecting Birmingham with Manchester is expected to go ahead.
The Integrated Rail Plan is set to be published around mid-November after being delayed since January. The Department for Transport was contacted for comment.