Dominic Raab Hails Rail Plan As 'Win-Win' Despite Cries Of Betrayal Over HS2

The government is under fire over plans to scrap the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds.
Dominic Raab said the government was "delivering action to go with the words".
Dominic Raab said the government was "delivering action to go with the words".
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Deputy prime minster Dominic Raab has insisted the government’s rail plans are a “win-win” despite anger that a key part of HS2 is set to be scrapped.

Raab batted away suggestions the government was betraying the north on levelling up following reports that the eastern leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds will get the chop, while a new line linking Leeds to Manchester will be replaced with upgrades.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps will unveil the government’s integrated rail plan (IRP) later today, in which he is expected to announce £96billion worth of investment.

Raab declined to confirm what would be in the IRP on the grounds the detail should first be revealed to the House.

But he said: “The detail will be set out today but I think this is win-win.

“It’s never been done before, £96billion, there’s never been an infrastructure project or series of projects on this scale.

“We’re delivering action to go with the words and the aspirations around us.”

Speculation that the government would scrap the eastern leg of HS2 has been swirling over the past year amid concerns over mounting costs.

It intensified after Boris Johnson wrote an article in the Yorkshire Post, in which he said the government’s plan would still mean “faster journeys, to more places, more quickly” for Yorkshire.

There are also concerns that a planned new line from Manchester to Leeds, known as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will also not go ahead and will instead take the form of upgrades to existing infrastructure.

Raab was later taken to task over the £96billion figure by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, who pointed out that £56billion has already been earmarked for HS2 — leaving £40billion for other projects.

“Candidly is that enough or is too much going to HS2?” Ferrari asked.

“HS2 is important, it deals with capacity and the national links between London and the rest of the country and the Midlands and the north.

“But what is also supplementing that and you’re right to break it down in the way you did, is the critical importance of the money that is going into the interconnectivity region-wide.

“And for folks listening to this, what that means is the small businesses, the medium-sized businesses, whose markets depend for expansion on those kinds of connections, that’s where the investment will go.”

In his column for the Yorkshire Post, Johnson argued that the original blueprint for rail would have meant levelling up taking too long for the nortj.

“High-speed rail is grindingly slow to build,” he wrote.

“Under the original blueprint, first drawn up more than a decade ago, Yorkshire would have not have seen the benefits of our investment until at least the 2040s. Levelling up can’t wait that long.”

But shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said scrapping the eastern leg from Birmingham to Leeds meant the north was getting the “crumbs off the table”.

“We are not going to see the level of investment our region needs to thrive in the future and more than that, the government just being honest about what that code means or trying to present it almost in a way that people should be grateful, that at least we’re getting crumbs off the table, and that’s just not good enough,” he told Times Radio.

“We want to hold the government to account for the promises that they made because it goes beyond actually just transport investment. It goes to the heart of politics.”