RAIL travel between York and France will be "less attractive" if proposals by the £50 billion HS2 project's boss are followed through, the city's council leader has claimed.

Hopes of direct links between the city and the continent were revived last year following talks between City of York Council and other authorities on the East Coast Main Line, who want any new franchise for the route to allow Eurostar or other international rail firms to ultimately use it.

However, HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins has said the proposed link between the new high-speed route and the HS1 Channel Tunnel link should be reconsidered, potentially, meaning passengers from the north using Tube services between London stations to catch Eurostar trains.

York's council leader James Alexander said: “The suggestion HS2 platforms at Euston will instead be linked via the underground to the HS1 platforms at St Pancras naturally means rail travel between Europe and the north is a less attractive prospect than if it were a through service.

"However, we are continuing to work with colleagues across the East Coast Main Line to explore options and opportunities for links with European rail services as part of the national franchise process.”

Coun Alexander said Sir David's recommendation that work on HS2 from the north should start earlier and investment in existing lines in the Leeds City Region, which includes York, would boost the construction industry. However, he said: "I am concerned about investment for linking sections such as Church Fenton to York.

"I will be lobbying Government for this and for track-laying to start earlier along the east to bring quicker and greater economic growth for the whole of the north and Scotland, rather than just focusing largely on issues of congestion in the north-west."

He renewed his call for York to house the High Speed Rail College, which would bring up to 2,000 apprenticeships to the city and is being supported by The Press' On Track For York campaign.

Coun Alexander said York was the "ideal candidate" because of its rail industry, educational reputation and position on the rail network, making it "one of the most connected cities in the north".