The comments made by Andrew Adonis on BBC News on 18 November 2021.
This east-west divide will have very serious consequences for England in the next generation. It means that businesses, social activity, enterprise is all going to move to the south and the west of the country. The great county of Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the whole of the North East of England around Newcastle, Durham and going north into Edinburgh, which was also going to be part of the HS2 line, but will no longer get fast trains, it’s seriously bad news. I don’t think it’ll be sustainable, I think it’ll have to be reversed. When people realise that this east-west chasm is being introduced into the country, the equivalent of the Victorians having chosen to build railways to the western part of the country, but leaving the east with canals. Once that becomes clear, HS2 will be completed, I think all the way through to Edinburgh and it will just be done much more slower, 20 to 30 years late and more expensively.
I’m strongly in favour of improving local transport, introducing new tram systems, better bus systems, more cycle lanes and that’s all very important. But that can’t be at the expense of intercity travel, particularly when getting the fast and long-distance trains off the existing rail lines creates a lot of additional capacity, so you can introduce more local and regional services. When HS2 goes to Birmingham and Manchester, this will free up huge capacity on the existing old Victorian lines going into Birmingham and Manchester for new local and regional services. The whole eastern side of the country, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham and Newcastle will no longer have that opportunity so they will lose both the long-distance fast trains which they need to be well-connected with the rest of the country and then also a massive penalty to pay for better local services too.