It was announced last November that the eastward extension of the HS2 line from East Midlands Parkway to Leeds was being scrapped. Boris Johnson has said the changes will mean faster travel up to 10 years earlier than originally planned, but he has been accused of breaking promises to the Midlands and the North.
Speaking to the Leeds panel, the man said: “Andy [Burnham, Labour Mayor for Greater Manchester]what you said earlier about the trains is absolutely correct.
“I mean, if you look at the integrated rail plan that’s been announced, £96bn I think it is, including £42.5bn for HS2 – it’s not even coming here.
Speaking to Tory MP Jake Berry on the panel, who is also Minister of State for Northern Power Station and Local Growth, he continued: ‘Jake, you’ll be brief with, ‘well, the improvements we will bring are will come faster”, what you missed is that we needed these improvements and we needed the high-speed line.
“We needed both. When you’re in a situation where to live in Leeds it’s actually faster for you to find a job in London and come and go rather than in Manchester, I think you have a problem.
Twitter users were quick to back up his statements.
User @TweetMeista wrote: “It’s often cheaper to fly from London to most cities in Europe than to get a standard return train ticket to Manchester.”
Another user tweeted that it took nearly an hour to reach Manchester Piccadilly from their parents’ house 30km away.
The audience member’s comments came after Mr Burnham said he welcomed the government’s white paper but said the North needed support.
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After plans for an HS2 extension were scrapped, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said at the time: ‘It was the first ‘upgrade’ test and the government completely failed and let everyone down in the north.
“You can’t believe a word the Prime Minister says.”
Journey times between Leeds and London and Leeds and Birmingham will now take longer than originally expected under the new proposals.
A new high-speed line between Leeds and Manchester will no longer be built, with plans now to upgrade existing lines for a shorter journey time of up to 33 minutes instead of 55 minutes.
Under the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, the government is exploring the most efficient way to run HS2 trains to Leeds.