As part of the UK Government’s scaling back on the HS2 project, high-speed trains will run on existing tracks between Yorkshire and the Midlands, the Independent reported exclusively.
In addition to a station in Leeds, the government is said to build only a new line to connect the city to South Yorkshire, leaving high-speed trains headed to Birmingham to run on existing tracks, slowing down to 60 miles an hour.
A purpose-built hub in Nottinghamshire will also to be axed during Wednesday’s budget.
“No one was asking for a gold-plated service – it makes sense to save money,” a source told the outlet. “But is this close to what we were promised? It’s pretty shoestring stuff.”
The news comes on the same day the Chancellor refused to comment on whether plans for HS2’s eastern leg will be part of the government’s budget, which will be announced on Wednesday. Sunak declined to comment also on the Northern Powerhouse Rail, which is set to link Manchester and Leeds.
Shadow secretary Jim McMahon called the eastern leg’s potential axing a “betrayal”.
“Labour has already committed to the full delivery of HS2, and that includes the eastern leg,” he told the Independent. “We’d work with mayors and leaders in our regions to make that happen.”
The party is not the only one who has called on the government to delivery the high-speed project in full. Commenting on the budget’s announcement, British Chambers of Commerce’s co-executive director Claire Walker said: “It’s great to see the Chancellor recognise the importance of local infrastructure in driving our economy forward and levelling up communities across the country.
“This investment will be a welcome boost toward that goal and will also be vital in achieving our net zero targets by funding more efficient, reliable and greener public transport. Critical to making all of this work is delivering HS2 in full.”