Transport secretary Grant Shapps is expected to face criticism over the rumoured decision to scrap HS2’s eastern leg that would connect Birmingham to Leeds.
Announcing the outcome of the Rail Integrated Plan on Thursday, Shapps is likely to confirm the decision, while setting forth an almost £100bn investment in the English railway network, the Sunday Times reported.
As part of the government’s levelling-up agenda, three new high-speed lines will be built, delivering the same benefits as HS2 but sooner.
The plan will include a 42-mile line from Birmingham to the East Midlands, a 23-mile route between Leeds and Sheffield and another 33 miles of tracks between Crewe and Manchester.
A Whitehall source told the outlet that “lots of stations aren’t well connected to particular cities – we’re going to make sure stations are all properly connected to local transport networks.”
The news follows the government’s decision to have high-speed train on the Yorkshire leg run on existing tracks, as part of its decision to scale back on the HS2 project.
According to plans, the government is said to build only a new station to connect Leeds with South Yorkshire, leaving high-speed train headed to Birmingham to slow down to 60 miles an hour.
“No one was asking for a gold-plated service – it makes sense to save money,” a source told the Independent on 24 October. “But is this close to what we were promised? It’s pretty shoestring stuff.”
The UK’s flagship project has also attracted criticisms from the construction industry that has blamed the project for wiping the slate clean when it comes to key supplies.
Industry stakeholders have accused HS2 of exacerbating global supply chain issues, aggravating concrete shortages and price increases, City A.M. reported.
“Big schemes like HS2 put in massive orders and agree their prices well in advance, which means the suppliers are committed, whereas your typical local builder is used to just ringing up his supplier on the day,” Ian Anfield, managing director of construction service provider Hudson Contract, told the Telegraph.