There are rumours the Government will commit to the western leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester while scrapping Birmingham to Leeds.
MPs and business groups have expressed disappointment over rumours that plans to upgrade rail links in the Midlands and the North have been watered down.
According to the PA news agency, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps could unveil the results of the integrated rail plan – including an announcement about HS2 between Birmingham and Leeds – on Thursday.
After years of spiralling costs, speculation has grown that the Government will commit to building the western leg of HS2 between Birmingham and Manchester but pull the plug on the Leeds option.
According to The Sunday Times, the rail plan will also include high-speed upgrades across the North and Midlands, reducing travel times between Leeds and Sheffield, Crewe and Manchester, and Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway, near the East Midlands Airport in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Henrietta Brealey stated: “I am disappointed to see speculation mounting again about the long-term future of HS2.
“In the Greater Birmingham area, it has contributed to creating jobs, attracting more comprehensive private sector investment and raising the region’s profile on the global scale.
“However, if the Government intends to implement the levelling up plan, then it is essential that HS2 is delivered in total – as the PM himself committed to at the start of his premiership.
“In the meantime, we will await to review the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan and hopefully we will see a commitment to proceeding with the Midlands Rail Hub – a project which has gathered significant local support from businesses and stakeholders alike.”
Then I said the plan in the North would only commit to investing into existing Transpennine route upgrade proposals rather than build a new high-speed route via Bradford, which would also create increased capacity.
Mr Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, stated: “Boris is ripping up the floor from beneath us while our feet are on the ground!”
Jim McMahon, the shadow transport secretary, spoke ministers were “quietly retreating” of infrastructure schemes they “had repeatedly committed to”.
Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, talked about Northern Powerhouse Rail – a plan to build an east-to-west bullet train through the North – had been “a duplicity”.
When Boris Johnson took the oath of office as prime minister, he pledged his “commitment for the Northern Powerhouse Rail project.”
Mr Johnson, who spoke at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester in October, stated that his government “will develop Northern Powerhouse Rail, linking up the cities of the Midlands and the North”.
North Yorkshire MP Kevin Hollinrake, who represents the Thirsk and Malton constituency, claimed the trimmed back plans showed the Government was “not prepared to back up its promises”.
As Mr McMahon put it: “It is laughable that the Government expects people in the North to accept half-hearted and repackaged promises. They are trying to back out of promises made on vital major infrastructure projects that those communities sorely need.
“Delayed implementation of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, which ministers have pledged to implement dozens of times. Therefore, it is not only insulting, it also actively stifles investment and prosperity for millions of people.”
The integrated rail plan is still being worked on, according to a Department for Transport spokesperson.
“It will be published soon, and we will make no comments on speculation.”