After announcing the scrapping of most of the eastern leg of HS2 and the Yorkshire section of Northern Powerhouse Rail, the transport secretary has claimed that new proposals will mean “virtually every area receiving as good or better service than would’ve been under the original plans”.
The Integrated Rail Plan, which the transport secretary unveiled on Thursday, shows that the originally planned journey time for London to Leeds extended by more than half-an-hour from 81 to 113 minutes.
The trip from Birmingham to York will be almost doubled, from 57 to 110 minutes.
Grant Shapps made the claim repeatedly on Sky News, later reiterating: “Virtually everywhere gets much better services than was envisaged under the original HS2 plan.”
The main beneficiaries of the changes are Nottingham and Derby.
After proposals for an East Midlands hub at Toton, west of Nottingham, were scrapped, HS2 trains will run direct from London to both Nottingham and Derby in 57 and 58 minutes respectively, compared with 83 minutes originally predicted for both cities with a change to local trams or trains.
Mr Shapps said that promises he and the prime minister had made to build HS2 and Northern Powerhouse rail were “absolutely being fulfilled”.
In July 2019, Boris Johnson pledged: “I want to be the prime minister who does, with Northern Powerhouse Rail, what we did for Crossrail in London.”
In May 2021, the transport secretary told an online event run by the Policy Exchange think tank: “We are going to complete HS2 and include HS2 on the eastern leg to Leeds.”
Today he told Sky News: “It does include three new high-speed lines – that’s from Crewe to Manchester, from Warrington across the west of Yorkshire and a new line from Birmingham to Nottingham and Derby. So there are three new sections of high-speed line.”
Later, Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast: “We get way more capacity than was originally envisaged.”
He added: “Labour leaders are completely misleading people.”
On BBC Today, party leader Keir Starmer said that, if elected, a Labour government would complete both legs of HS2 and extend Northern Powerhouse Rail to Bradford and Leeds.
Mr Starmer said: “It can still happen, and that is our commitment.”