Leeds & West Yorkshire

HS2 'transformational' and 'absolutely awful'

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Media captionBBC's Yorkshire's Business Correspondent Spencer Stokes on what it means for the region.

The announcement HS2 is to come to the city of Leeds "will be transformational for the north" the leader of city council has said.

Judith Blake said it would make Leeds a major transport hub on a par with Gatwick Airport.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed government approval of the high-speed rail project on Tuesday.

But the scheme is not without its detractors and has met a mixed reception in Yorkshire.

Image copyright Richard Maude
Image caption Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said HS2 would bring investment into Leeds

"We need the investment in terms of the economy," Ms Blake said, adding that the city had argued for "a long time" HS2 should come into the centre of Leeds.

"It will be transformational for the station itself, but also unlocking all of the regeneration potential of the south bank," she added.

"Leeds is already the busiest station in the north, this is going to be a major transport hub on a par with Gatwick Airport at the current time."

However, some rail users were firmly on the other side of the tracks with regards the new high-speed rail route.

Anthony Rutherford, 45, and Darren Wilson gave their views while travelling from Leeds to Hull.

Image caption Anthony Rutherford and Darren Wilson think the money would be better invested in local services

"I personally think it's a waste of money," Mr Rutherford said.

"The money could better spent maybe on investing in local train services."

Meanwhile, Mr Wilson was concerned about the length of time it would take to complete.

"I doubt I'll be alive by the time the work has been finished up here," the 49-year-old said.

Image caption Keith Smith said he didn't think it would vastly improve Leeds

Keith Smith, 81, speaking at Leeds Railway Station, agreed with his fellow travellers about the money being better invested in local services.

"I don't think it's going to vastly improve the city of Leeds. It's costing an awful lot of money," he said.

"Obviously improving journey times is a good thing but I'm not sure the benefits are worth the amount that is being spent.

"I would have thought they'd be better investing in the local infrastructure."

Image caption Law student Freja Dudley said the work on the project should start in the north

Law student Freja Dudley, 24, disagrees. However, she is not sure why the building work is starting elsewhere.

"If the underlying premise is to improve infrastructure and connectivity to the north then why not start the work here to see the benefit sooner," she said.

"I know there's been criticism of destroying woodland but I think to some extent that's a necessity to take us forward.

"The improved journey times will be a boost and will make a difference to me with my career as I'll be travelling to and from London.

"But I do think they also need to improve rail services locally for it to really work."

Stephen Waring, chairman Halifax and District Rail Action Group, agreed more needed to be done to the local lines.

"There are clear benefits from HS2, but on the other hand it's going to be a long time in coming," he said.

"Meanwhile we've got this railway across the north of England, including on this line, the Calder Valley line, that needs improvement, it needs upgrading, the projects that should have been delivered years ago that we're still waiting for."

Image caption Ron and Anne Ryall have been ordered to leave their home next month

Ron and Anne Ryall, from the Colne Valley in West Yorkshire, have been ordered to leave their home next month as it's on the planned HS2 route.

"I'm finding it difficult that someone can just walk into your life and destroy it," Mr Ryall said.

"My family has lived in this lane for 100 years. I was born here."

"It's awful, absolutely awful," Mrs Ryall added.

"We feel like a fruit being squeezed out of its skin, closing in and closing in and it's just a horrible feeling."

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