Government Confirms Leeds to Manchester Rail Link To Go Ahead

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Government Confirms Leeds to Manchester Rail Link To Go Ahead

Government Confirms Leeds to Manchester Rail Link To Go Ahead

The government has confirmed plans for a high speed rail link connecting Leeds and Bradford with Manchester, despite rumours the scheme would be scrapped.

A government spokesman stated that ministers still plan to press ahead with the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, otherwise known as HS3, after a report in the Sunday Express last weekend suggested the project was facing the axe.

The report claimed that a Whitehall source had said ministers were looking to kill off the scheme despite the fact it would upset Conservative MPs who had won ‘red wall’ seats from Labour across the north at the 2019 general election.

However, the spokesman said:  “We’re getting on top of our priorities of levelling up and investing in northern transport,” insisting that the government is “absolutely committed” to Northern Powerhouse rail.

He added that the forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan would soon “outline exactly” how this scheme would fit in with HS2 and other transport schemes in the region.

News that the project will go ahead will come as a relief not just to northern politicians and business leaders hoping to enjoy the economic boost it could bring, but also those involved in the construction sector and supply chains who might be involved directly in building it. This is likely to include scaffolders in Leeds and Bradford.

Transport for the North (TfN) has been a major advocate of the HS3 plan, arguing it will be transformational in delivering far faster and more direct services between major cities on either side of the Pennines.

Speaking to Place North West this week, interim chief executive of TfN Tim Wood said the plan for the new line “provides a step change in capacity and resilience for both passengers and freight and move us away from an ageing Victorian railway between Manchester and Leeds”.

He added that the body is waiting to see the new Integrated Rail Plan, which he noted is “due soon to transform connectivity across the North including great cities like Bradford which has been held back for far too long.”

Bradford may particularly benefit from a major improvement in its connectivity, as it is currently excluded from the faster rail links between Manchester and Leeds, which pass through Huddersfield and Dewsbury. Instead, it has a slower connection from Manchester Victoria to Forster Square Station, while services to and from Leeds serve Bradford Interchange Station.

However, even the direct services between Manchester and Leeds are relatively slow, taking around an hour for a journey of 40 miles, including one tunnel section under the Pennines between Mossley and Marsden. This will be considerably accelerated by the planned new line.  

In its entirety, the HS3 line will also run as east-west from Hull to Liverpool, bringing five cities together and making travel to and from Leeds much faster. Leeds will then be connected directly by high speed rail to seven cities, with HS2 offering direct connections to Sheffield, Birmingham and London, as well as to Toton Station between Nottingham and Derby.

The National Infrastructure Commission set out the original case for HS3 by pointing out that at present, it takes twice as long to travel by rail from Liverpool to Hull as it does from London to Paris.