Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has used a debate in Westminster to call on the Government to back HS2 in full, following reports that Ministers are considering scrapping the Eastern Leg of HS2. The Eastern Leg, also known as Phase 2b, would run to North Yorkshire and connect to the North East via the East Coast Main Line.

During the debate, Catherine highlighted that “The Government talks a lot about levelling up, and there can be few more glaring examples of regional inequality than rail infrastructure – and few where the role of central Government is so critical.

“If the Government is serious about HS2 being a project for the North, it must build and integrate all phases of HS2, along with Northern Powerhouse Rail and major upgrades to the East Coast Main Line.

Catherine highlighted that “if the Government’s intention is simply to build 21st-century rail links between London and Birmingham while passengers and businesses in the North are left behind, it will make a mockery of levelling up.”

The Newcastle North MP also used the debate to continue her campaign for investment in the East Coast Main Line: “After decades of underinvestment and a failed, piecemeal approach to rail infrastructure in the north, the Government have an opportunity to invest in capacity and connectivity, attract investment and truly boost the north by delivering HS2, NPR and east coast upgrades”.

Following the debate, Catherine commented:

“HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and upgrades to the East Coast Main Line have the potential to be transformational for regional and national connectivity.

 “The Government can’t talk about levelling up whilst leaving infrastructure in the North behind.

 “If they are serious about levelling up, they must ensure high speed rail works for the North, not just for London and Birmingham.”