The Department for Transport (DfT) has scrapped plans for the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds, but is pushing ahead with £96 billion of rail improvements.
The DfT published its Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) today where it confirmed its plans for HS2, with services from London to Manchester still going ahead over the next decade.
The IRP confirms there will be three new high-speed lines, improving rail services to and between the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West.
This includes Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) that will connect Leeds and Manchester in 33 minutes, down from 55 minutes now.
HS2 East will run direct from central Nottingham to Birmingham in 26 minutes, down from 1 hour 14 minutes now, and from central Nottingham to London in 57 minutes.
HS2 will also run from London to Sheffield in 1 hour 27 minutes and HS2 West will run from London to Manchester in 1 hour 11 minutes and from Birmingham to Manchester in 41 to 51 minutes compared to 86 minutes today.
The Goverment said as recently as May this year that the eartern leg of HS2 would be built, but a review of the scheme as part of the IRP determined that it would not be delivered quickly enough to help "level up" areas between the East Midlands and Leeds.
The DfT said that under earlier plans, smaller towns on existing main lines such as Doncaster, Grantham, Huddersfield, Wakefield, and Leicester would have seen "little improvement, and in some cases even their services cut back".
Electrification and contactless payments
As well as the new high-speed lines, the IRP fully electrifies and upgrades two diesel main lines – the Midlands Main Line and the Transpennine Main Line – as well as upgrading a third main line – the East Coast – with higher speeds, power improvements and digital signalling to slash journey times.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Our plan is ambitious, deliverable and backed by the largest single government investment ever made in our rail network. It will deliver punctual, frequent and reliable journeys for everyone, wherever they live.
"Just as the Victorians gave this country our railways nearly 200 years ago, this Integrated Rail Plan will create a modern, expanded railway fit for today and future generations.
"Significant improvements will be delivered rapidly, bringing communities closer together, creating jobs and making places more attractive to business, and in doing so, rebalancing opportunity across the country.
"Our plans go above and beyond the initial ambitions of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail by delivering benefits for communities no matter their size, right across the North and Midlands, up to 10 to 15 years earlier."
Part of the plans for IRP include £360 million to introduce contactless tap-in and tap-out ticketing at more than 700 stations across the country outside London and the South East, benefitting more than 400 stations across the North.
Over the next three years, the Government will roll out contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing across the commuter networks of the Midlands and North – introducing London-style price caps and “greater integration with local bus and tram networks”.
Shapps added: "Passengers across the North and Midlands have waited far too long to see the same fast, easy and convenient ticketing as those in London. We’re determined to put that right.
"Today’s investment is just the first phase of our efforts to overhaul our rail network, focused on improving journeys for passengers right across the country."