Thank you for your email following the news that the eastern leg of HS2 will no longer be going ahead.
I can certainly appreciate your disappointment on the face of things. Due to a history of underinvestment, coupled with our geography, we in the East Riding – as well as those living in Hull – haven’t had the public transport connections we deserve to help us get to work, create jobs, and boost tourism.
I’ve been a longstanding champion of improving rail connections, recently meeting with Northern Rail to confirm that Hull-Scarborough services weren’t being permanently downgraded and to receive an update on the continued refurbishment of their fleet, writing to Ministers about electrification of the Hull-Selby route, and advocating for the restoration of the Hull-York line via Beverley in order to increase capacity, provide more resilience, and cut congestion along the A1079.
There are benefits to the Integrated Rail Plan, though, which is backed by £96 billion funding and is the biggest ever single investment into Britain’s rail network. Its aim is to deliver faster, more frequent, and more reliable journeys across the North. Crucially, these changes can be delivered 10-15 years earlier than through the continuation of HS2’s eastern leg.
There will still be a new, high-speed rail line built between Warrington, Manchester and Leeds, so that journey times between Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds will be cut by a third to just 33 minutes.
This Northern Powerhouse Rail will still be linking into the HS2 route between London and Manchester which is cutting journey times to the capital to 1 hour 11 minutes. There will be upgrades to the East Coast Main Line and the Transpennine Route so that both will be able to run quicker and more reliable services, which are also better for the environment.
In addition, £360 million is going towards rolling out London-style contactless ticketing so that it becomes much simpler for people to get the train to work or into the city for an evening out.
It is now my job to work to ensure that Ministers use the funding that has been freed up by replacing the HS2 eastern leg with the Integrated Rail Plan’s new proposals, to properly link Hull and the East Riding into the UK’s central rail network.
As I said earlier, I appreciate why this is disappointing news at first glance, but while the Government could have rigidly stuck to the original plan despite spiralling costs and ever further away construction dates, this new plan is an opportunity to deliver more, sooner.
We must take this opportunity to ensure that East Yorkshire gets the infrastructure it deserves, and I’ll be working with my colleagues across the area to see that this happens.
I know that my colleagues Kevin Hollinrake and Barry Sheerman, who are the Co-Chairs of the Yorkshire & Northern Lincolnshire All-Party Parliamentary Group, have invited the Transport Secretary to address the group and outline what this means for our area, and I will be sure to keep you updated as to what happens following this.
Thank you once again for getting in touch.