Cuts to northern rail plan: How long will your journey take compared to what was promised?

Critics argue the government has "left out" the North in its rail plan announced on Wednesday. Credit: PA

The government has abandoned plans for high speed railway lines connecting cities in northern England with each other and London.

The government has been accused of betraying the north after it confirmed on Thursday that the eastern leg of HS2, connecting the East Midlands and Leeds, will be ditched.

And plans for the highly-anticipated Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) have been downgraded - with proposals for a new line linking Manchester and Leeds via Bradford canned.

The broken promises have sparked anger among regional leaders and MPs, including Tories in "Red Wall" seats, saying the North has been "left out", branding it a "rail betrayal".

But Downing Street insisted it will "transform" rail journeys and create faster services across the region much sooner than the previous proposals as part of its newly published Integrated Rail Plan.

So, what rail services were promised to the people in Northern England and the Midlands and what will they actually get now parts of it have been scrapped?What is HS2?

How HS2 was due to work, before the eastern leg to Leeds was scrapped. Credit: PA

HS2 is a new high-speed railway linking London, the Midlands, the North and Scotland via more than 25 train stations. Trains will operate at up to 225mph, reducing journey times.

Construction of HS2 is split into three phases - Phase One will run between London and the West Midlands via Birmingham.

Phase 2a will link up Birmingham and the North via Crewe in Cheshire.

The Phase 2b line will form a Y shape, split into the eastern and western legs.

The western leg is due to extend the line between Crewe and Manchester, while the eastern leg was planned to connect Birmingham and Leeds.

What were the plans for the HS2 eastern leg?

  • Continue from the West Midlands to Toton, outside Nottingham in the East Midlands, where a new HS2 station was set to be built to serve Nottingham, Derby and the wider region.

  • It would continue north from the East Midlands to South Yorkshire via Sheffield.

  • From South Yorkshire, the line would continue to Leeds where a new HS2 station was set to be built in Leeds city centre.

  • HS2 would also have a connection onto the East Coast Main Line, allowing it to serve York, Newcastle and other places in the north-east.

An artist's impression of HS2

What were the plans for the Northern Powerhouse Rail?

  • A high-speed rail linking Manchester and Leeds to better east-west connections across the North.

  • The line was due to go through Bradford - one of the worst connected cities in the country.

An artist's impression of how the HS2 station in Leeds would have looked.

What will happen now to HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail?

The government has announced it has completely scrapped the eastern leg of HS2, while it has abandoned plans for the new Northern Powerhouse Rail Manchester-Leeds route via Bradford.

Instead, as part of its £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan, new high-speed rail links will still be offered.

But the lines will not run on brand new rail tracks as planned - but will instead continue on existing, updated tracks.

Instead of the HS2 route reaching Leeds, there will be a new Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway line.

Trains will continue to central Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.

They will run on an upgraded and electrified Midland Main Line rather than HS2 tracks - which the DfT said will save tens of billions of pounds.

The trains will run on a slower rail track to Sheffield, meaning HS2 trains would still reach Yorkshire but the high-speed line itself will not.

A revised Northern Powerhouse Rail line will connect Warrington, Manchester and Marsden in West Yorkshire.

Again, trains will not run on a new rail track but the TransPennine Main Line will be upgraded and electrified.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps argued the changes will speed up journeys "up to ten years sooner" than if ministers had pressed ahead with earlier plans.

But critics have argued that using the same tracks for the new high-speed railways could hamper the potential of the new services.

How much faster will my train journey be?


  • Current journey time: 55 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 25 minutes

  • New promised time: 33 minutes


  • Current journey time: 50 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 26 minutes

  • New promised time: 35 minutes


  • Current journey time: 2 hours 13 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 1 hour 21 minutes

  • New promised time: 1 hour 53 minutes


  • Current journey time: 1 hour 26 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 1 hour 23 minutes

  • New promised time: 58 minutes


  • Current journey time: 1 hour 58 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 49 minutes

  • New promised time: 1 hour 29 minutes


  • Current journey time: 1 hour 58 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 1 hour 27 minutes

  • New promised time: 1 hour 27 minutes


  • Current journey time: 1 hour 26 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 41 minutes

  • New promised time: 41-51 minutes


  • Current journey time: 1 hour 46 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 1 hour 1 minute

  • New promised time: 1 hour 13 minutes


  • Current journey time: 1 hour 14 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 55 minutes

  • New promised time: 26 minutes


  • Current journey time: 1 hour 21 minutes

  • Previous proposals: 1 hour 14 minutes

  • New promised time: 1 hour 16 minutes

Why have plans been changed?

The government-commissioned Oakervee Review warned in 2018 that the final bill for the entire Y-shaped network of HS2 could reach £106 billion.

The project’s initial budget was £32.7 billion at 2011 prices.

No 10 previously said that environmental protests over the building of the rail have cost the government up to an extra £80 million.