High-speed rail plan for North East to be scrapped this week – report

A long-expected announcement that plans for a high-speed rail line from Birmingham to Leeds (HS2b) are to be scrapped will come from the government this week, according to a report in today’s Sunday Times.

Instead, according to the paper, £96bn will be spent on three new and upgraded lines cutting journey times in half between Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield in order to create an economic agglomeration, or powerhouse.

The three lines will run from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway, just south of Nottingham; southwards from Leeds towards Sheffield; and from Crewe to Manchester to complete the western leg of HS2, the paper reports..

Under plans for HS2b, high-speed trains would have continued on conventional track from Leeds to York, Darlington and Newcastle, linking to North East to the national high-speed network..

In addition, northern leaders have been hoping that the government’s Integrated Rail Plan would provide an improved trans-Pennine link, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), between Manchester and Leeds. Its future remains uncertain but must be considered doubtful.

Without some further government assurance, the implication of today’s report is that the only benefits North East rail travellers can expect from the development of the main line network will be indirect spin-offs from improvements further south.

This website has been consistently warning of doubts over the future of HS2b since July.