Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has added to growing speculation about the future of the eastern phase of HS2, saying ministers will “not blindly follow” plans drawn up nearly two decades ago.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Shapps indicated that a major rethink on the high-speed rail project between Birmingham and Leeds may be in order.
He told the newspaper, “We want to make sure we get trains to Leeds in a way that really benefits the people on the network and not blindly follow a plan invented 15 to 20 years ago, which Doesn’t benefit people anymore.”
Construction of the first phase of the high-speed rail project from London to Birmingham is underway.
Phase 2A is planned to run from Birmingham to Crewe, and Phase 2B is planned to run from Crewe to Manchester and from Birmingham to Leeds.
But after the government-commissioned Okravi Review warned last year that the final bill for HS2 could reach £106 billion ($144 billion) at 2019 prices, there were concerns that the eastern phase of Phase 2B could be scrapped. can be done.
This escalated when the National Infrastructure Commission in December said the focus should be on regional connectivity.
Shapps told the Financial Times that the construction of the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) plan, which aims to connect cities in the region with an east-west route, should also be taken into account.
He said: “The Midlands Rail Hub and Northern Powerhouse are rail things … they were invented, they weren’t when the HS2 was first designed.
“We need to make these things work together. Are we doing things in the best possible way and in the right order?”
Shadow Transportation Secretary Jim McMahon called Shapps’ comments “outrageous.”
“You can’t trust a word from the Tories,” he said. “It is disgraceful to expect people to accept the endless rebellion of promises made years ago.
“Poor transport connectivity continues to lag the North, the Midlands and beyond and the Conservatives’ record is one of total failure to deliver.
“Communities that stand to lose once again – thanks to the government’s inability to keep projects on track – will feel rightly betrayed by yet another broken promise framed as a new announcement.”
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times