Mishal Husain Trips Up Grant Shapps Over His Watered Down Rail Pledges

The host of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme was quick to point out a major flaw in the new railway plans.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps and BBC Radio 4's Today programme host Mishal Husain
Transport secretary Grant Shapps and BBC Radio 4's Today programme host Mishal Husain
Getty

Grant Shapps was put on the spot by journalist Mishal Husain over the government’s watered-down rail plans for transport in the north.

The transport secretary unveiled the highly-anticipated integrated rail plan on Thursday, only to be accused of betraying the north of England for not delivering on the Conservatives’ previous promises to “level up” the UK.

The eastern leg of the new high speed line (HS2) has been cut out of the plans and the Northern Powerhouse Rail from Manchester to Leeds has also been dropped.

Trying to defend the new plan during an interview on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Shapps said: ″I should mention that this plan is actually for three high speed lines – the Birmingham to Nottingham and Derby one, Crewe to Manchester, and then a second one in the north which runs from Warrington through Manchester to the west of Yorkshire.

“A lot of this detail has been lost in the newspaper headings.

“There will be new high speed lines.”

Interviewer Husain quickly interjected: “Hang on – in Yorkshire, there’s going to be two lots of high speed tracks, correct?”

Shapps replied: “That’s right – it comes into the west of Yorkshire...”

Husain added: “And stops.”

The original plan was expected to see a new rail line run from Birmingham through to the east Midlands, Sheffield and then Leeds.

Now it will only run to East Midlands Parkway before continuing to “non high-speed lines to Nottingham and Sheffield”.

As The Yorkshire Post highlighted for Friday’s front page, the region feels “sold out” in the rail plan, despite having the same population as Scotland.

The previous HS2 plan and the newly revised plan (right)
The previous HS2 plan and the newly revised plan (right)
PA GraphicsPress Association Images

Shapps tried to justify himself, and said: “But, that’s not the end of the plan – we then have a multi-billion pound plan which upgrades the trans-Pennines route, we’ve already started working on it and spent now £2 billion.

“The overall northern powerhouse rail, that’s the link to link those northern cities across, is about a £23 billion plan which includes high speed rail, and three times as much capacity as we have today across the Pennines across Manchester, Leeds and elsewhere.”