News expected this week

After months of silence, speculation and the much delayed Integrated Rail Plan (still not published) the last few weeks have seen several articles in the newspapers based on rumour or so called leaks, not facts. There was more speculation on local TV yesterday and national TV today based on claims by an undisclosed “source”. While there are likely to be some elements of truth to the various rumours, until there is an official announcement from Government, and then subsequently from the relevant parties in Yorkshire, the future of our area remains at risk.

It is likely that Government will award a considerable sum of money to improve transport within the northern region. This does not equate to HS2 being scrapped and Leeds getting trams instead. It is likely the the IRP will publish very soon, and this may well “justify” the cancellation of the HS2 eastern leg, as currently proposed. It is widely anticipated that there will be an announcement regarding the cancellation on Thursday (18/11/21).

It is also highly likely that part of the funds awarded to improve transport links in the north will result in an upgrade between Leeds and Sheffield. This is rumoured to adopt the HS2 route from Leeds to Clayton (near Doncaster). SOWHAT will oppose any such plan as the cost / benefit and blight arguments are even weaker for a regional project.

A terminus station in Leeds does not make sense, nor does the route south; no trains north of Leeds (without linking to existing station) and no direct links to Bradford or Wakefield, or other key towns and cities. LCC should reconsider the impact on Woodlesford, Oulton and Swillington, recognising that their aspirations for the Southbank can be realised without sacrificing our villages and countryside.

It is also vital that any cancellation of HS2 is full and final, removing any safeguarding. Without this any blight will continue indefinitely.