Polls show cuts to HS2 have led Yorkshire to lose faith in the Government

Polling shows that the county is strongly opposed to the decision to cancel HS2’s Eastern Leg, with many losing faith in the Government as a result.


New polling of Yorkshire has shown that the decision to cancel HS2’s Eastern Leg has undermined the county’s faith in the Government’s levelling up agenda, with 42 per cent of those with an opinion opposed to the scheme’s curtailment, as opposed to just 27 per cent who are in support.   

The research, undertaken by Opinium on behalf of the High Speed Rail Group (HSRG), was commissioned following the publication of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) which confirmed that the full Eastern Leg will not proceed to Leeds as planned. Of those to express a view, 42 per cent are against the HS2 Eastern Leg cancellation. Over four in ten, 41 per cent, think the decision shows the Government cares less about levelling up, demonstrating the political implications of the curtailment as the Government attempts to resuscitate its flagship policy. Indeed, polling shows that more than four times as many people see the Conservatives less favourably as those who see them more favourably, because of the decision.

This is reflective of a wider belief amongst Yorkshire’s residents that their region does not receive adequate transport investment. 76 per cent think they receive less than their fair share compared to London, 66 per cent in comparison to Southern England and 57 per cent compared to the whole of the UK. Whilst over 92 per cent say that transport is important to improving the economy and prosperity of Yorkshire. Further emphasising its importance, when asked what three areas of infrastructure should be prioritised in the levelling-up of Yorkshire, transport was most popular with 66 per cent choosing this option.

Polling also shows that the Eastern Leg curtailment will have implications on the zero-carbon agenda. HS2 journey times would nearly double the number who would use rail for Leeds-Birmingham journeys, jumping from 36 per cent to 60 per cent. This clearly demonstrates the important role that high-speed rail has to play in facilitating modal shift from more polluting forms of travel to clean, green rail.

“Our polling shows just how far reaching the implications of the Government’s decision to curtail HS2 before it reaches Leeds are, going beyond transport to affect agendas from levelling up to net zero,” a spokesperson for High-Speed Rail Group said. “It sends a clear message to the Government that without significant investment in national transport, and high-speed rail specifically, they are at risk of falling short on their promise of levelling up amongst the public. High-speed rail is one of the best ways to drive meaningful levelling up outside of the Southeast, and as such we call on the Government to go beyond HS2 to invest in a truly national high-speed rail network.”

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