The first phase of HS2, from London to Birmingham, is now underway, and the government is expected to confirm in the integrated rail plan in the fall that it will be extended to Manchester as planned. However, development work on the stage linking Birmingham to the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds has been suspended.
Mr Berry said Thursday evening: “We will have to wait and see – but that would be a serious concern to the members of the North. It is the crucial link for many seats of the “red wall” and our capital and is seen by many as central to the government’s “leveling” agenda.
“We thought the days when the North came second in infrastructure investment was behind us when 80 Conservative MPs from the North gave Boris Johnson a majority. Just repeating the phrase “leveling up” is not the same as generating real growth and investment for the North.
“HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are the litmus test of the government’s commitment to invest in northern communities. “
The transport ministry insisted that no final decision had been made, a spokesperson saying: “The integrated rail plan will soon describe exactly how large rail projects, including phase 2b of HS2 and other transformation projects, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will work together to provide the reliable rail services passengers in the North and Midlands need and deserve. ”