NORTHERN England will “benefit massively” from rail upgrades, Boris Johnson insisted amid rising anger over plans to axe key schemes.

The Government is expected to announce on Thursday that the eastern leg of HS2 will be scrapped between the East Midlands and Leeds.

Read more: Scaled-back rail improvements 'shatter the illusion' of levelling-up

There is also frustration that improvements to east-west connections across the North, known as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), are likely to involve upgrades to existing infrastructure rather than a new line between Manchester and Leeds.

At Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons today, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Mr Johnson if he “stands by that promise” to develop the whole of HS2.

Mr Johnson replied: “I’m afraid (he) is in danger of getting hoist on his own petard.

“He needs to wait and see what we announce tomorrow, because I think he will find that the people of the North East, of the North West, the people of Leeds, the people of Nottingham, the people of Sheffield, the people of the whole of the North West and the North East of this country will benefit massively from what we are going to announce.”

Pressed by Tory backbench MP Jake Berry over whether voters were right to take him “at his word” over past promises about NPR, the Prime Minister responded: “Yes. He should wait and see what is unveiled tomorrow when he may learn something to his advantage.”

The measures will be announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps when he publishes the Integrated Rail Plan on Thursday.

In the Commons today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Boris Johnson if he “will he stick by that promise” on Crossrail for the North.

He said: “Trust matters and after the last fortnight the Prime Minister’s got a lot of work to do.

"A central plank in this Government’s promise to the North of England is a Crossrail of the North, with at least an entirely new high speed rail line between Manchester and Leeds.

“A Crossrail for the North, an entirely new line, that is the promise, it’s already been made, so I don’t want the Prime Minister fobbing off the House about waiting until tomorrow, he can say today, will he stick by that promise, yes or no?”

Mr Johnson replied: “When we produce our integrated rail plan tomorrow people across the House and across the country will see what we are doing to cut journey times, to make life easier and better for people in the North East, in the North West, in the Midlands, across the whole of the North of the country.

“And with the biggest programme of investment in rail for a century and what we are doing, is we are giving people in those communities the same access to commuter-type services that people in the south east of this country have felt entitled to for more than a century, and that is going to be levelling-up across the whole of the UK.”

The Department for Transport is expected to argue that HS2 trains will still serve Leeds, but putting them on mainline tracks north of the East Midlands rather than on high-speed lines will save tens of billions of pounds.

It will insist its plan to invest £96 billion on the existing network will deliver benefits faster and more cost-effectively.

But MPs and officials in the North-East have voiced concern this week that the region could miss out on a vital economic boost if there is inadequate investment in northern rail infrastructure.

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