The UK government has announced an upgraded investment plan in the rail network and confirmed that the eastern leg of High Speed Two (HS2) will be scrapped.
According to the Department for Transport, the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) will see “the biggest ever government investment in Britain’s rail network”, with a 96-billion-pound ($129 billion) package of rail construction and upgrades for the Midlands and northern England, reports Xinhua news agency.
But under the new plan, the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds, which was originally meant to connect London with the city centres of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, is set to be scrapped.
“Our plans go above and beyond the initial ambitions of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail by delivering benefits for communities no matter their size, right across the North and Midlands, up to 10 to 15 years earlier,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
The Department for Transport said the plan, building on the expert findings of wide-ranging internal and independent analysis, including from the National Infrastructure Commission, will deliver better outcomes for passengers in a faster and more efficient way than under original plans.
However, critics accused the British government of breaking promises.
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Jim McMahon said it was “the betrayal of trust, the betrayal of promises and the betrayal of investment the north of England and the Midlands deserve”.
HS2 will be the UK’s second high-speed line, the first being High Speed One (HS1) which connects London to the Channel Tunnel. Work on Phase One of HS2 between London and Birmingham is currently underway.