Downing Street has significantly watered down its pledges to improve railway infrastructure in the north, prompting outrage from the public.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps will confirm the government’s rail plan on Wednesday, but there are already reports circulating that the eastern leg of HS2 – from Birmingham to Leeds – has been cut.
There are further concerns that the Northern Powerhouse Rail, from Manchester to Leeds, has been completely dropped too and that Downing Street will look only to upgrade the existing rail lines.
The government has confirmed it will be pouring £96 billion of investment into the current plan, and prime minister Boris Johnson has claimed that this new strategy means the north can “level up” at a faster rate.
He wrote in the Yorkshire Post: “High-speed rail is grindingly slow to build.
“Under the original blueprint, first drawn up more than a decade ago, Yorkshire would not have seen the benefits of our investment until at least the 2040s. Levelling up can’t wait that long.”
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has also dismissed any complaints and described the new plans as a “win win – but it’s safe to say plenty of people feel the north has been hard done by in this announcement.
Downing Street’s announcement comes just days after newspapers in the north united and called on the government to live up to its promises.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon is just one of many opposition MPs who has implied that the north was betrayed by this decision.
Here’s a roundup of all the disappointed and frustrated reactions to the diluted railway plan.
The scrapping of a major Northern Rail Route should be the final straw for this government with their “ Levelling Up “ pledge . This along with monumental corruption , the lack of planning for a post Brexit economy and their COVID ineptness should be enough to bring them down!
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) November 18, 2021
Good morning on a day when we are going to feel unheard, unimportant, unnecessary.
Perhaps most tellingly, unintelligent. A decade of promises to give families in our region parity (not more!) of opportunity with other families elsewhere, all broken. #MindTheGap pic.twitter.com/mq77NMusO5
— James Mitchinson (@JayMitchinson) November 18, 2021
Is anyone surprised by this?
From day one I’ve believed it was to get more commuters into London.
Making commutes faster allows people working in London to live further away, cheaper.
Post COVID with zoom etc. HS2 is madness.
Tell me I’m wrong?
— John Chaytor (@JohnChaytor) November 17, 2021
Anyway don’t believe the spin, cancelling the final bits of HS2 is a dumb decision, it will screw efforts free up capacity on the existing network, we’re now gonna do HS2 totally half-arsed, and it sounds as though there’s not much cash left for a new transpennine route.
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) November 14, 2021
Seriously?? #DominicRaab on #Today (in 5 mins) defending cancelling #HS2 East & Northern rail projects…. The man who didn’t understand the importance of Dover-Calais to British biz & who’s keen to stop misogyny against men …. Seriously?? #clueless
— Anna Soubry (@Anna_Soubry) November 18, 2021