Boris Johnson is in Selby – to defend rail plan that critics have called ‘a betrayal of the North’
The Prime Minister is in North Yorkshire today on a mission to defend his government’s new plan for the railways.
Boris Johnson is visiting the Network Rail hub at Gascoigne Wood, near Selby.
It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the new integrated rail plan – and confirmed the high-speed HS2 link will not be coming to Yorkshire.
The plan has been branded a ‘betrayal of the north’ by Lib Dem City of York Council leader Keith Aspden.
Under the proposals the eastern leg of HS2, which would have seen Birmingham connected with Leeds and York via Sheffield, improving the reliability and speed of services to and from York station and across the North.
They have also watered down a promise to fund the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, a new high-speed rail link in the North, by instead focusing on upgrades to existing lines.
‘Failed to listen’
The HS2 eastern leg would have integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail and local transport to relieve congestion, improve reliability and speed up journey times, Cllr Aspden said.
“The Government has once again failed to listen to the voices of Yorkshire and the North, who will be most impacted by the consequences of this decision.
“Failure to deliver on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail is a betrayal of the North and the levelling up agenda, which continues to be a vapid political slogan.
“We cannot talk about levelling up and a commitment to the North without addressing the decades of underinvestment across our transport networks. We haven’t had a major new rail line in the north since the Victorians and it means our infrastructure is simply not fit for a 21st century economy.”
The key points of the IRP are:
- The extension of HS2 from the East Midlands to Leeds has been scrapped. HS2 trains will instead run on existing lines.
- NPR between Leeds and Manchester will be a combination of new track and enhancements to existing infrastructure.
- Plans to fully electrify the Midland Main Line and the Transpennine route, and upgrade the East Coast Main Line.
The decision to cut back HS2 will make journeys between Leeds and London 32 minutes longer than previously planned.
Mr Shapps said: “Our plans go above and beyond the initial ambitions of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail by delivering benefits for communities no matter their size, right across the North and Midlands, up to 10 to 15 years earlier.”
He said under the original plans HS2 would not have reached the North and Midlands until early the 2040s, but the new programme would ensure travellers saw the benefits of improved links “much, much sooner”.