In Leeds, we've spent a decade preparing for HS2. We've been badly let down | James Lewis
By SEAMLESS DAILY
20 November 2021
Recent months saw a steady buildup of rumours in the press to this effect – and the first confirmation we received was in the media on Thursday morning.
This simply isn ’ t enough to match what was previously on the table.
We remain determined to make sure that this is the last time a major project benefiting Leeds is cancelled.
Even Thursday ’ s announcement of the electrification of the TransPennine route is only a rehashed version of a scheme that was promised in 2011 but has so far remained undelivered.
Now the pressure is on the government to deliver.
We are calling for the Leeds to Sheffield work to be fast-tracked and delivered without delay, alongside an urgent review of safeguarded land across the city that will bring greater certainty, and a fundamental reform of the way transport policy decisions are being made.
He demanded the government clarify how it planned to build the new section of NPR track, which is to run from Warrington to Marsden in West Yorkshire, stopping at the new Manchester station.
It will be situated next door to the existing Piccadilly station, which does not have platforms long enough to accommodate HS2's 400-metre trains.
East Manchester is home to long-established communities of thousands of people who would be underneath this line," he said.
Graham Stringer, Labour MP for the Manchester seat of Blackley and Broughton, said the government's new plan amounted to "putting HS2 on stilts through Manchester".
Boris Johnson stands accused of betraying Northerners and abandoning his levelling-up mission thanks to decisions not to proceed with an HS2 extension from Birmingham to Leeds and to curtail another flagship scheme for a high-speed line between Manchester and Leeds, via Bradford.
Labour leader Keir Starmer alleged that Johnson had "derailed" plans for better connectivity, which is a bit rich considering he campaigned for HS2 to be abandoned altogether.
But it's a load of rubbish.
In fact, there are strong grounds for believing that Mr Johnson ’ s new Integrated Rail Plan for the North will offer more improvements to the region much more quickly by focusing on upgrades to existing lines.
It certainly offers better value for money for taxpayers.
Further improvements will cut the journey time between Bradford and Leeds from 20 minutes to 12 minutes, rather than the eight minutes that a new line could have delivered at much higher cost and with a much longer build time.
Better signalling will allow more frequent services, substantially raising capacity too.The new focus on major upgrades to existing infrastructure – including new rails to run alongside existing ones – is also much gentler on the environment, with many villages and countryside that would have been wrecked now spared.
"Treasury rules" by which the potential benefit of schemes was measured were skewed in favour of London and the South-east because of that region's very high headcount.
But Johnson has overseen the complete redrafting of those rules.
Alongside a planned rapid rollout of ultra-fast broadband across the North over the next five years, with the North-west in the vanguard, the plan the PM announced this week really does have the potential to give Northern towns and cities a major economic uplift.
They focused too much on showpiece, high speed links and too little on local services – less glamorous, perhaps, but more important to most people."
Indeed, nearly a quarter of all Labour MPs sit for London seats, with 49 elected in the capital in 2019, compared to just 21 Tories.
The Prime Minister had hoped an end to Covid restrictions would allow him to pivot back to focusing on delivering his election pledges.
While the decision to axe the HS2 eastern leg to Leeds has been heavily criticised, Johnson says it is "total rubbish" to claim he has broken promises.
Part of the reason this is so contentious is a concern that these local issues could be taken by the party's new voters in the red wall as a sign that Johnson is watering down or even walking back his election promises.
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