HS2 eastern leg and Manchester-Leeds rail line to be scrapped, government confirms

ITV News' Northern Reporter Hannah Miller explains exactly how the government's rail plans have changed

The government has been accused of betraying the north by abandoning plans for high speed railway lines connecting northern regions with each other and London.

The transport secretary confirmed in the Commons that the eastern leg of HS2, which would have connected Leeds with London via Birmingham and the East Midlands, will no longer be built.

And plans to connect Leeds with Manchester via Bradford, under the wider Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, will also be abandoned.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an investment of £96 billion will help improve services in the Midlands and northern England ten years sooner than if ministers had pressed ahead with earlier plans.

And instead of the HS2 route reaching Leeds, there will be a new Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway line, while high speed trains will still reach Leeds but on slower lines.

There will also be a new line connecting Warrington, Manchester and western Yorkshire.

Mr Shapps insisted the revised plan is "slashing journey times across the north".

But critics say ministers have rowed back on their promise to "level up" the north by connecting its towns and cities.

'He's completely sold us out': Labour's Jim McMahon and Grant Shapps debate rail plans:

The transport secretary, explaining the move, said “the full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail schemes as originally proposed would not enter service until the early to mid-2040s”.

His announcement gained a furious response from Labour, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying the "North of England has been betrayed" by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"This was the first test of 'levelling up' and the government has completely failed and let down everybody in the North, and you can't believe a word the prime minister says."

He added: "If you can't level up in Bradford then the whole levelling-up agenda is seen for what it really is, and that is just a slogan."

An architect in Bradford says he struggles to recruit due to the city's poor transport links

Passengers at Bradford Interchange station told ITV News on Thursday that improved transport links were long overdue.

"I have to set off at 5am to definitely be at work by 7.30am," one commuter said.

Amir Hussain, CEO of the city's Yeme Architects said he struggles to recruit staff because of the Bradford's poor rail connections.

"Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe it," he said.

"It's because of the euphoric high of what the opportunity represented...to have the rug pulled out from under us in such an abrupt way feels brutal".

Mr Shapps claimed the revised plans would mean rail improvements reach the north east of England "much, much sooner than under previous plans" despite high speed rail not reaching the region, noted ITV News Tyne Tees Political Correspondent Tom Sheldrick in a Twitter thread.

The transport secretary said trips from Newcastle to Birmingham "will be slashed by almost 30 minutes" and passengers in Durham and Darlington will "benefit from smoother, more reliable trains".

But Newcastle North Labour MP Cat McKinnell said the government is telling northerners "to put up with, make do and mend", saying the prime minister has "seemingly cancelled levelling up".

Gateshead's Labour MP Ian Mearns said it "looks as though HS2 was affordable for the south, but it wasn't affordable for the north".

Tory backbencher Huw Merriman, who chairs of the Transport Select Committee, accused the PM of "selling perpetual sunlight" and delivering "moonlight" on rail projects for the north of England.

Mr Johnson said it was "total rubbish" to suggest he was breaking his promises on rail connections between Leeds and Manchester and insisted he would deliver on all high speed rail commitments "eventually".

He said: "The problem with that is those extra high-speed lines take decades and they don't deliver the commuter benefits that I'm talking about.

"We will eventually do them."

The revised Integrated Rail Plan will see high-speed trains travel on slower track to Sheffield, meaning HS2 trains would still reach Yorkshire but the high-speed line itself will not.

Transport Secretary Shapps said the £96 billion investment in will "transform a Victorian network into one befitting a modern country".

The original plan for High Speed Rail in the UK, which was separated into two phases, HS1 and HS2, was first proposed by the Labour government in 2009.

The first phase, between London and Birmingham, is expected to be completed around 2029 to 2033.

The second phase, from Crewe and Manchester to Birmingham, is expected to be complete between 2035 to 2040.

North of England Reporter Hannah Miller has analysis from Leeds

How some journey times will differ:

  • Leeds-ManchesterCurrent journey time: 55 minsTime if earlier plans went ahead: 25 minutesNew promised time: 33 mins

  • Liverpool-ManchesterCurrent journey time: 50 minsTime if earlier plans went ahead: 26 minutesNew promised time: 35 minutes

  • Leeds-LondonCurrent journey time: 133 minutesTime if earlier plans went ahead: 81 minutesNew promised time: 113 minutes

  • London-DarlingtonCurrent journey time: 142 minsTime if earlier plans went ahead: 113 minutesNew promised time: 125 mins

  • Birmingham-NottinghamCurrent journey time: 74 minsTime if earlier plans went ahead: 55 minutesNew promised time: 26 mins

  • London-NewcastleCurrent journey time: 169 minsTime if earlier plans went ahead: 137 minutesNew promised time: 145 mins

  • Manchester-NewcastleCurrent journey time: 139 minsTime if earlier plans went ahead: 103 minutesNew promised time: 117 mins