By Claire Gordon • 14 November 2021 • 20:19
"HS2 = Ecocide" (CC BY 2.0) by oddsock
While the government is currently refusing to confirm or deny that the plan to extend the HS2 to Leeds is dropped, reports by The Sunday Times suggest Grant Shapps is to announce the outcome of the delayed rail plan on Thursday 18 November. The new plans will instead fund separate, seemingly random, projects which favour Conservative constituencies and leave gaps in the rail network.
The Times suggest he will commit to building HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester but not Leeds, which has already made plans and cleared land for the new station it was expecting. Shapps is expected to announce two shorter high-speed rail routes, one between Leeds and Sheffield, and another from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway. Parkway is in the Tory seat of Rushcliffe, 10 miles south of Nottingham. This would leave a non-high speed gap of 50 miles between the two new lines. Leeds will get a new tram system as a consolation for not being connected to HS2.
The director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership thinktank, Henri Murison, said: “Without the benefits to areas such as Yorkshire and the north-east, HS2’s status as a project to drive the whole of the UK is undermined considerably. Will this be a government that levels up, or levels down and walks away from the northern powerhouse they promised with city leaders across the north?”
The Mail on Sunday said other announcements expected this week included the £78m electrification of the line from Wigan to Bolton, which now has two Tory MPs, and a reinstatement of a passenger service from Sheffield to Stocksbridge, which in 2019 elected its first Tory MP since 1935.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Work is continuing on the integrated rail plan. We will publish it shortly and do not comment on speculation.”
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