Government confirms HS2 eastern leg scrapped in 'bitter blow' for Chesterfield

A Government decision to scrap the eastern leg of the high speed rail link HS2 serving Chesterfield has been described a ‘bitter blow’.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 11:36 am
Updated Thursday, 18th November 2021, 1:37 pm

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced £96bn of ‘new’ funding for rail today, but has been accused of betraying the Midlands and the north by revealing a ‘rethink’ on the HS2 link to Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds.

Business and political leaders said the economic prosperity of Chesterfield and Staveley ‘hinged around the delivery of HS2’.

There were also plans to build a train maintenance depot at Staveley.

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Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said today: “The scrapping of HS2 is a bitter blow the full extent of which will be exposed in a decade or more as east falls behind west as a destination for investment.”

Work has already started on the first phase of HS2 , linking London and the West Midlands. The next section will extend the line to Crewe.

The final phase was to take HS2 to Manchester and Leeds.

This section will now only serve Birmingham to an East Midlands Hub near Nottingham.

A possible design for the new HS2 train by Bombardier.

HS2 trains will then travel north to Chesterfield and beyond but using existing upgraded tracks.

Mr Shapps said in the House of Commons: "This new blueprint delivers three high-speed lines. First, that's Crewe to Manchester.

"Second, Birmingham to the East Midlands with HS2 trains continuing to central Nottingham and central Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield on an upgraded mainline.”

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Today’s announcement comes as a bitter blow to communities in the East Midlands that have spent such a long time planning for the arrival of HS2, only to now be faced with a reneging on clear commitments repeatedly made by our country’s leaders.

“From a practical perspective, we miss out on the majority of the transformational economic benefits that underpinned the HS2 case for the region.

"This would have included significantly enhanced connectivity both locally and with other major cities, increased capacity to help us deliver more frequent and reliable local services, as well as the significant wider investment opportunities that come with businesses basing themselves at such a well-connected location.

“It was also about creating economic prosperity in places such as Chesterfield and Staveley, where economic regeneration planning has hinged around the delivery of HS2.

“But it’s not just a case of what we could have had. Investment begets investment and the fact that the Western Leg has been given the green light places the East Midlands at a massive disadvantage.”

Neil Derrick, GMB regional secretary for north Derbyshire, said the decision amounted to ‘economic vandalism pure and simple’.

Experts also criticised the announcement as a missed opportunity to increase capacity on the nation's rail network.

Rail enthusiast John Morrissey, from the Steeple Grange Light Railway in Wirksworth, said: “Japan started to build its bullet train high speed lines in 1964.

"Other countries such as Italy, France, Germany, Spain and China followed suit.

"They all now have extensive networks that function well and are pretty green.

“Meanwhile we have indulged ourselves with stop-go policies that gobble up money and result in little improvement—the very opposite of investment.

"Time and again our railways, their passengers and freight operators have suffered years of delays caused by upgrades with little to show for it.”