Grant Shapps defends rail plans labelled a 'betrayal' of the North
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Transport Secretary was challenged about how plans to scrap the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds as well as scaling back on other railway upgrades had left many northerners furious. Sky News presenter Niall Paterson pointed out most big cities in the North had spoken out against the plans and had accused Boris Johnson of “betraying” his manifesto pledges. Mr Paterson said: “Just to reiterate – Newcastle, not supporting it; Liverpool, not supporting it.
“Leeds, Manchester, Bradford, none of them are particularly happy with this.
“I was speaking to the editor of the Yorkshire Post, who actually carried an article by the Prime Minister yesterday morning…I just don’t believe you understand the depth of anger that exists this morning about another U-turn by this Government.
“He told me, ‘this is a betrayal of the north as severe as Mrs Thatcher’s decimation of northern industry in the 1980s.'”
Mr Shapps insisted travel times under the new plans would be improved, saying: “If you’re in Newcastle be aware that rather than taking 81 minutes, one hour 21 minutes, it will take one hour and a quarter to get from Newcastle to Leeds.
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“And that’s without taking into account the massive advantages of the electrification further south as well as the digitalisation.”
He continued: “This will have been the only time in history where massively improving everybody’s railway services would have been counted as a betrayal.
“It’s a strange approach but if you live in those areas I urge you to download the integrated rail plan rather than listen to what these people say. Download the integrated rail plan, pages 18 and 19 will list your town or city and it will show the speed and improvement for the journey you’ll now be getting.
“If you still feel betrayed by being able to get to other places much much quicker then you probably will agree with whoever said that, otherwise you’d be probably grateful and happy that you can get around much much faster because of this enormous investment.”
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