Announcement comes in DfT response to critical transport committee report

The government has launched a study to work out how HS2 trains can be run to Leeds, nearly two years after it scrapped plans for an eastern leg for the new high-speed rail line. 

A review of how HS2 trains could be brought to Yorkshire has been promised since the government’s £96bn Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) was published in November 2021. 


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The government will also look into a new station at Bradford, sometimes described as the worst-connected UK city

The current plan, as set out in the IRP, is for the high-speed network to run only as far as East Midlands Parkway station in Nottinghamshire. 

The Leeds Study will consider capacity at Leeds station and local views on the matter, as well as factors such as disruption, economic development, value for money, affordability, deliverability and timescales. 

The announcement came within the Department for Transport’s (DfT) formal response to a July 2022 report on the IRP from the Transport Select Committee

It agreed to the recommendation of an updated benefit-cost ratio for the eastern leg, which the committee criticised the government for failing to carry out before axing the line. 

As well as announcing the Leeds Study, which is expected to take 18 months to complete, the DfT said that an updated business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail – proposals to electrify lines and increase capacity on rail routes in the North – would be released later this year and would include “updated analysis and a range of different network options”. 

This could include a new station at Bradford, which was controversially ommitted from the IRP in 2021. 

“A re-assessment of the evidence for better connecting Bradford and the case for [building] a new station will now form part of the NPR development programme and the HS2 to Leeds Study,” the DfT said. 

The department additionally confirmed that there was still no alternative plan to the Goldborne Link – a section of HS2 that would have connected Crewe with the West Coast Mainline to Scotland which was dropped from legislation last June – despite the committee’s request that a new solution be identified by March this year. 

Transport Committee chair Iain Stewart MP said: “The main arguments of the committee’s report have been vindicated as the government has accepted that more work is needed on key elements of the Integrated Rail Plan – its cost-benefit ratios, contributions to levelling up and projections on shortening journey times.  

“We welcome those elements of the response, even though we regret this work was not completed before the major strategic decisions in the IRP were taken. 

“We are particularly glad to see DfT taking an open-minded approach to building a new station at Bradford – sometimes dubbed the most badly connected city in the UK – and doing more analysis of a range of different network options. 

“What we will be looking for now is a willingness for the government to change course if that is what this renewed evidence base suggests. 

“It would be remiss to not point out that the committee called on DfT crack on with these work streams months ago.  

“The HS2 to Leeds study is now expected to take 18 months, and we are still waiting for an alternative to the Golborne Link to emerge.  

“By then one can only wonder if all of this will still be achievable within the £96bn spending envelope, or whether inflation and rising interest rates will continue to cut this budget down in real terms.”