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Boris Johnson breaks 2019 pledge and scraps HS2 Eastern Leg to Leeds

PMQs: Boris Johnson clashes with Keir Starmer on HS2

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The Prime Minister, 57, wrote exclusively for The Yorkshire Post on Wednesday and confirmed the current HS2 link to Leeds is being dropped with a “new study” proposed on the best way to eventually get the city connected to the network.

However, in February 2021 Mr Johnson committed to the Eastern Leg.

He told Parliament: “I can certainly confirm that we are going to develop the Eastern leg as well as the whole of the HS2.”

Previously in October, the 57-year-old even called for more money for his key Red wall rail plan amid concerns the plans would be reduced by the Treasury.

The Prime Minister’s plans to deliver the new line between Leeds and Manchester was a key pledge in 2019.

In October, Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow Transport Secretary, condemned the budget cuts and warned anything less than was promised would be “a betrayal of the North”.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton said he has already lobbied Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to invest in Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

Mr Hollinrake said: “It’s fine to try and watch every penny but you can’t mix up day-to-day spending with long-term investment, it’s an entirely different thing.

“This is a difficult time in terms of spending but I don’t think that’s a good reason to now reduce or cut back on what is much needed spending that’s making up for decades of underinvestment.

 

“If there’s other ways of doing the same thing that’s different but if you are basically making reductions in spending that are going to mean things like, for example, Bradford isn’t connected to Northern Powerhouse Rail, that would be a very retrograde step.

“We’ve got to be bold and commit.”

However, the route is being scrapped in favour of a Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway line with high-speed trains running up to existing slower track up to Sheffield.

This means HS2 trains will reach Yorkshire but the high-speed line itself will not.

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According to the Yorkshire Post, Mr Johnson said: “HS2 will come to Sheffield, meaning a trip to or from London will take just one hour 27 minutes – precisely the same as under the old HS2 plans.

“We’ll look at how to get HS2 to Leeds too, with a new study on the best way to make it happen.”

However, the Prime Minister did not mention how he would include Bradford directly on an entirely new NPR route between Leeds and Manchester.

Northern leaders have been calling for this.

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The Prime Minister has said the route upgrades between Leeds and Bradford will occur “by the early 2030s” to halve journey times, whilst committing to NPR reaching York.

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