Heavily-delayed HS2 to Leeds study finally starts its two-year journey

The Government has launched a study to look at options for running HS2 trains to Leeds that will shunt any decisions down the track onto the next government.

It is already more than 600 days after the HS2 to Leeds study was announced as part of the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands in November 2021.

Transport minister Huw Merriman has also confirmed that the government accepts the recommendation of the Transport Select Committee to “reconsider the case for the development of a new station in Bradford”.

The study will be undertaken by Network Rail with support from HS2 and is expected to take two years.

It 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”.

Merriman said: “The government stands by the conclusions of the Integrated Rail Plan on Bradford, and the benefits that plan brings to the city. However, in light of this recommendation, a reassessment of the evidence for better connecting Bradford and the case for a new station will now form part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail development programme and the HS2 to Leeds Study.

“The government’s approaches for Leeds and Bradford remain those which were set out in the Integrated Rail Plan and the undertaking of this work does not guarantee further interventions will be agreed or progressed.

“The government remains committed to the Integrated Rail Plan’s £96bn envelope and expects that additions or changes to the core IRP pipeline will be affordable within that.”

Regional mayors and council leaders from across the North and Midlands have united behind a new report which identifies a three-phase process to deliver better connections between the North East, Leeds, Sheffield, the East Midlands, Birmingham and London.

The three phases incrementally build on the proposals within the government’s Integrated Rail Plan “by offering much-improved inter-city and inter-regional connectivity”.

The three phases are estimated to cost just over £8bn to deliver, and would represent a £7.4bn saving on the forecasted cost of delivering the full eastern leg of HS2 as initially proposed.

Leeds City Council leader James Lewis and Nottinghamshire County Council leader Ben Bradley MP, joint co-chairs of the HS2 East partnership said: “The North and Midlands desperately need the inter-city and inter-regional rail connectivity that will bolster our post-pandemic economic recovery and growth, better connecting our communities and bringing jobs and opportunities within easier reach.”