A new two-year study of ways of taking HS2 services to Leeds has been welcomed in the Midlands.
The study will consider future rail capacity needs at Leeds and in West Yorkshire more generally, and will look at different options, taking possible disruption and value for money into account.
Leeds had been intended to be the terminus of a new high speed line from the West Midlands, which would have served the Derby/Nottingham area and Sheffield en route, but this part of the scheme was later cut back to terminate at East Midlands Parkway.
The government, which says the technical work will be done by Network Rail, supported by HS2 Ltd, warned that the preparation of an Outline Business Case did not mean that any of the options would go ahead.
These options include running high speed services via Newark and the East Coast Main Line, routing Leeds services via Manchester, or completing the full Eastern Leg of HS2 through the East Midlands and South Yorkshire to Leeds as originally planned.
The study will also examine the implications of using parts of the existing network.
Rail minister Huw Merriman told MPs: ‘The proposals set out in the Integrated Rail Plan bring communities and labour markets together and will support growing our economy in towns and cities across the nation.
‘The work in the study will consider a range of options and take account of value for money, affordability, deliverability and timescales, economic development, disruption to passengers and local views and evidence. The study will be extensive and will take two years to complete.
‘As this work progresses, we intend to review the case for dropping certain options, taking account of evidence gathered, particularly on costs, affordability, benefits and value for money.’
Another development concerns the provision of a new station for Bradford, which had been dropped from the separate Integrated Rail Plan.
Mr Merriman said the government was accepting a recommendation of the Transport Select Committee that ‘the government should reconsider the case for the development of a new station in Bradford. The development of the St James’s Market station would not only enhance rail connectivity in the North, allowing further investment in the city, but also provide further opportunities for rail development in Bradford after the “core pipeline” of IRP upgrades take place.’
Midlands Connect’s chief executive Maria Machancoses said: ‘We welcome the release of the much awaited terms of reference for the HS2 review up to Leeds.
‘Midlands Connect remains unanimous on the enormous economic, social and environmental benefits associated with getting HS2 connections from the Midlands to the North.
‘We will now seek to be actively involved in the next stages of development ensuring as part of the study, consideration is given to our proposals for improved services from the East Midlands to Leeds and beyond.’