UK

HS2 decision means cash can now be spent on northern transport projects, says PM

Rishi Sunak met small business owners in Yorkshire (Molly Darlington/PA)
Rishi Sunak met small business owners in Yorkshire (Molly Darlington/PA) Rishi Sunak met small business owners in Yorkshire (Molly Darlington/PA)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said his decision to axe the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 was done to enable projects such as a “critical” mass transit system for Leeds.

Mr Sunak was asked about the city being the largest in Europe not to have such a system as he visited businesses in the Farsley area of West Yorkshire on Thursday.

The Prime Minister told reporters: “There’s going to be significantly more funding for West Yorkshire mass transit as result of the decision I made on HS2.

“We’re repurposing every penny of the money that would have been spent on HS2 expansion and deploying that across the North – so, almost £20 billion. And a big chunk of that has been kept aside to deliver mass transit.”

Rishi Sunak in Yorkshire
Rishi Sunak in Yorkshire Rishi Sunak, next to Emma White, had a go at jewellery making (Molly Darlington/PA)

He said: “So it can be delivered in full because, previously, there wasn’t full funding available.”

Mr Sunak said: “This was a long-term decision that I made because I thought it was better to spend that money on projects exactly like that as well as across the North – we’re fully electrifying all the lines from Hull to Leeds to Sheffield to Manchester, for example.

“Again, that’s £3 billion worth of investment that’s going to considerably improve frequency and capacity across all those places.”

He said a mass transit system “was critical to Leeds’s future growth”.

Mr Sunak also referenced the “huge investment” planned for Bradford, which he said included a new station and faster connections to Manchester.

The Prime Minister was speaking after touring businesses at the Sunny Bank Mills complex in Farsley, where he tried his hand at jewellery making.

Rishi Sunak met small business owners from Sunny Bank Mills
Rishi Sunak met small business owners from Sunny Bank Mills Rishi Sunak met small business owners from Sunny Bank Mills (Molly Darlington/PA)

Mr Sunak had a cup of tea and spoke to business owners in the main gallery and then took up a hammer to fashion some metal at the Emma White jewellery studio.

“It’s really exciting what’s happening in Leeds,” he said.

The Prime Minister told reporters: “We’re big backers of Leeds. You can see that in the investment that’s gone into transport infrastructure, for example.”

And he added: “Most of all, this is about backing the incredible people and businesses in Leeds and I’ve been talking to some of them here today.”

Mr Sunak was also asked about the timetable for further devolution in the North, outlined in the autumn statement.

He said: “The good news is that devolution is actually being delivered by this Government.

“That’s empowering local leaders across the North, and particularly in Yorkshire, with the powers that they need and the funding alongside that to deliver for their local communities – something we’re proud to be doing more of.

“And, we’re keen to be having those discussion as soon as possible.”