HS2 Leeds Line Under Threat

An article in today’s Financial Times indicates that the HS2 rail review is considering cutting the route to Leeds. The costs of the project have soared recently and the review is under pressure to find significant savings. The northern part of the railway is most at risk of being scaled back because it does not yet have parliamentary approval.

The article stated: “Any proposal to truncate the eastern leg of the line from Birmingham will be resisted fiercely.” Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, was quoted as saying that failure to build the line to the city would “condemn the north and east of the UK to second-class status.”

Whilst we agree that Yorkshire and the north east of England require a high standard of rail communications with the rest of the country, HS2, as it currently stands, is a gold-plated project where the costs appear to be completely out of control. What we should be looking for is a service that connects the major centres of the UK which will be reliable, frequent, where the journey times will be reasonable, where there will be adequate capacity and also a service that will provide value for money when compared with other forms of transport. We also need a project that can be provided at reasonable cost and within a fairly short timeframe so that capacity can keep up with demand. Hopefully, the current review will provide more realistic proposals so that all can benefit from modern standards of rail communication and nobody loses out.

The greatest transport threat to Leeds over the next few years is likely to be its lack of a rapid transit system. Leeds has the potential to strangle itself on its own congestion long before HS2 arrives. This could be the greatest threat to the future development of Leeds and it needs to be tackled now as a matter of urgency.

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