Levelling up hits the buffers

Editorial: The latest HS2 announcement looks very much like a plan that’s designed to deliver the bare minimum of the government’s pledges

Thursday 18 November 2021 21:30
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It may well be the case that the government’s integrated rail plan, aka scrapping the HS2 extension to Leeds, will improve some rail links in the underinvested north. The plan is to upgrade and improve existing links and to build shorter HS2-style links around the east Midlands and from Crewe to Manchester. Journeys from Manchester to Leeds will, it is claimed, be quicker, but they will not be truly high speed.

Beyond that, there’s not that much integration to be seen. Leeds in particular has been short changed, while Newcastle, Sunderland, Dewsbury, Halifax, Doncaster and Bradford, in need of better links much more than the likes of Manchester and Birmingham, are left with nothing. A total investment of some £96bn, albeit some of it pre-announced and recycled, should yield some economic benefits, and it is fair to point out that these improvements will arrive sooner than in the original plan. But it does not live up to the slogans of “build back better” and “levelling up”, both of which are proving pretty vacuous.

Raab defends HS2 cuts and claims government 'delivering best bang for buck'

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