Eastern leg of HS2 is ‘critical’, government told

THE West Yorkshire Combined Authority is telling the government that improving transport connections for its region is ‘critical’ to improving ties between the nations of the United Kingdom, and that these connections include HS2 to Leeds.

The submission, to the Union Connectivity Review and its chairman Sir Peter Hendy, follows an assessment before Christmas in which the National Infrastructure Commission published its Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North.

This said ‘the packages prioritising regional links do not include the full eastern leg of HS2 Phase 2b, but instead include a mix of new lines and upgrades, which has the potential to provide improved connections from Birmingham to the East Midlands as well as being potentially cheaper and faster to deliver’, adding that ‘packages of rail investments prioritising regional links are likely to have the most potential benefits for cities in the Midlands and the North’.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority says a new line between Leeds and Manchester via central Bradford, upgrading the Trans-Pennine line and investing in the East Coast Main Line are among the projects which would help improve connections with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but it also includes the Eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds as ‘essential’, calling for investment in rail as an ’efficient, high capacity, low-carbon form of transport’.

Cllr Kim Groves, who chairs the Authority’s Transport Committee, said: ‘For West Yorkshire, better connections with the UK nations start with improved transport links in and out of the region. I hope the Union Connectivity Review will reflect that in its recommendations and that the Government will take this into account when it publishes the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands.

‘Delivering these improvements is essential to accelerating our recovery from the pandemic and addressing the social and economic disparities it has further exposed across Britain. Investment in better connections in and out of West Yorkshire is the path to improved links to the rest of the UK and Europe with all the opportunities that brings.

‘To tackle the climate emergency, unlock economic growth and to level-up we need long-term whole-network planning and the delivery of promised rail investment.’

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee will discuss the submission at its meeting on Friday.

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