BBC QT: Audience member fumes over Northern rail plan – ‘HS2 not even coming here!’


It was announced last November that the Eastern extension of the HS2 line from East Midlands Parkway to Leeds was being scrapped. Boris Johnson said that the changes would mean faster travel up to 10 years earlier than initially planned, but he was accused of breaking his promises to the Midlands and the North.

Speaking to the panel in Leeds, the man said: “Andy [Burnham, Labour Mayor for Greater Manchester], what you said earlier regarding the trains is completely right.

“I mean if you look at the integrated rail plan that’s been announced, £96 billion I think it is, £42.5 billion of that is for HS2 – it’s not even coming here.

Addressing Tory MP Jake Berry on the panel, who is also the Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, he continued: “Jake, you’ll be brief with, ‘well the improvements we’re going to make they’re going to come quicker’, the point you’ve missed is that we needed those improvements and we needed the high speed line.

“We needed both. When you’re in a situation where living in Leeds it’s actually quicker for you to get a job in London and go there and back rather than to Manchester, I think you’ve got an issue.”

Twitter users were quick to back up his statements.

User @TweetMeista wrote: “It’s often cheaper to get a flight from London to most cities in Europe than it is to get a standard return rail ticket to Manchester.”

Another user tweeted that it takes almost an hour to reach Manchester Piccadilly from their parents’ house 19 miles away.

The audience member’s comments came after Mr Burnham said he welcomed the Government’s White Paper but claimed the North needed support.

READ MORE: Forty beheaded skeletons found in Roman cemetery in HS2 site

After the HS2 extension plans were scrapped, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said at the time: “This was the first test of ‘levelling up’ and the Government has completely failed and let down everybody in the North.

“You can’t believe a word the Prime Minister says.”

Travel times between Leeds and London and Leeds and Birmingham will now take longer than initially expected under the new proposals.

A new high speed line between Leeds and Manchester will now no longer be built, with the plan now to upgrade existing lines for a shorter commute time, down to 33 minutes instead of 55 minutes.

According to the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, the Government is looking at the most effective way of running HS2 trains to Leeds.


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