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Wed May 18 2022

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Leeds to get trams but not high speed rail

18 Nov 21 The government has torn up plans to take HS2 to Leeds but is giving the city a tram system.

HS2's plans for Leeds have been binned (or at least shelved until a change in government)
HS2's plans for Leeds have been binned (or at least shelved until a change in government)

Writing in today’s Yorkshire Post ahead of publication of an new ‘integrated rail plan’, prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed that long established plans for HS2 Phase 2b  had been binned in favour of a series of smaller (but still substantial) rail upgrades across the north of England.

He justified the U-turn on the basis that building HS2 to Leeds would take too long.

“High-speed rail is grindingly slow to build,” Johnson writes. “Under the original blueprint, first drawn up more than a decade ago, Yorkshire would have not have seen the benefits of our investment until at least the 2040s. Levelling up can't wait that long.”

HS2 Phase 2b would have cut the time of a rail journey from Leeds to London to just 81 minutes, from its current time of 133 minutes. Leeds to Birmingham would have been reduced to just 49 minutes instead of currently 113 minutes (at best).

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The new plans, dubbed Northern Powerhouse Rail, will reduce the Leeds-London journey to 103 minutes, saving 20 minutes instead of 52 minutes with HS2.

Perhaps as compensation to the West Riding electorate, Johnson promised funding for a proposed £4.2bn mass transit system in West Yorkshire. “By later this decade, Leeds will no longer be the largest city in Europe without a metro,” he writes.

The mayor of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Tracey Brabin, said earlier this week: “If we are to give the people of the north the fair chance they deserve for prosperity, equality of opportunity and for the vital decarbonisation which will ensure we meet critical climate targets then the government must give us the HS2 Eastern Leg in full and deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail, with the crucial new stop in central Bradford. This is alongside the upgrade and modernisation of the existing trans-Pennine route.”

Johnson's full article can be read at

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