Frustration grows as HS2 derails and ‘levelling up’ goes off track

Frustration grows as HS2 derails and ‘levelling up’ goes off track

Readers react to the scaled-back plans and the broken promises about infrastructure investment in the north of England

Integrated rail plan? It’s more like a dog’s breakfast. When Grant Shapps[1] blew the whistle to send a train from Okehampton to Exeter this week, he waxed lyrical about the reopening of a branch line that had been closed for 49 years, and told those listening to look out for more exciting developments.

Leaving aside the fact that the line has been operating on summer weekends thanks to the dedication of volunteers, the 11 miles of replacement track laid by Network Rail appears to be significantly more than the people of Bradford, one of the UK’s largest cities, can expect from the revised plans (‘A betrayal of the north’: Tory MPs frustrated at downgraded rail plan, 18 November).

This southerner certainly understands their fury.
Les Bright
Exeter [2]

While Paul Salveson may be right that many people in the north were not interested in HS2 (Letters, 18 November), he says nothing about HS3, aka Northern Powerhouse Rail. I think Andy Burnham’s anger at that scheme being dropped fairly represents the views of the majority of people in the north of England. People are aware of the difference in investment in transport infrastructure between London and the north.

The government had a huge hill to climb in convincing people that “levelling up” was more than a slogan. Dropping HS3 has just demolished any chance of the slogan being seen as reality.
Ian K Watson

Your correspondent’s claim that HS2 is “hugely unpopular in the north” is nonsense. To start, the north is not one homogeneous blob.

There is no mass movement opposed to it, not even where I am in south Manchester, where the tunnels will go beneath our homes. Personally, I welcome the opportunity to travel to Europe quickly, and not depend on flights, and I know many people who share my view. Not that I claim to speak for “the north” thereby.
Prof Bill Cooke

The prime minister said that his latest U-turn on “levelling up” was to ensure that the people in the north got the same train service as we do in the south-east.

God help our compatriots in the north, then. Having lived and worked in France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, I can assure you that Britain’s south-eastern trains are the dirtiest, most crowded and most unreliable. We’re the world leaders in bad trains. “We’ve seen nothing like it this century,” Boris Johnson said.

Well, at least he got that right.
Phil Davison


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  1. ^ Grant Shapps (
  2. ^ ‘A betrayal of the north’: Tory MPs frustrated at downgraded rail plan, 18 November (
  3. ^ Letters, 18 November (
  4. ^ Andy Burnham’s anger (
  5. ^ HS2 (
  6. ^ HS2 (
  7. ^ Rail transport (
  8. ^ Grant Shapps (
  9. ^ Transport (
  10. ^ Conservatives (
  11. ^ Andy Burnham (
  12. ^ Labour (
  13. ^ letters (
  14. ^ Reuse this content (