Northern Powerhouse Rail under threat

It’s being reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could scrap plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail at a “secret Whitehall meeting this week”.

According to Insiders the £43bn project that was designed to improve connectivity across the North and connect the cities of Liverpool, Manchesters, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle. The proposed scheme also includes plans for a stop in Bradford with plans for the new station described as  has been described as extending the city centre and making it “better-connected and more prosperous”.

According to some reports the Government’s plans to create a new high speed rail line could be replaced with a scheme simply following the existing Transpennine route after what “well placed source” described to the Sunday Express as the funding being “swallowed up” by HS2, which reports claim has now reached a cost of £158bn.

The Sunday paper reported that “Treasury and Department for Transport officials and ministers are set to meet in the Treasury on Monday to effectively kill the project.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The Integrated Rail Plan will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b, the Trans Pennine Route Upgrade and other transformational projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the North and Midlands need and deserve.”

Bradford council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “As the youngest city in the UK, Bradford is at the heart of the future workforce of the North.”

She added that young people have been hugely impacted by the economic restrictions of the pandemic and that Government should not take a decision now that “will doubly disadvantage these young people for the rest of their lives.”

Tracy Brabin

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin said: “I have contacted the Transport Secretary to seek urgent clarity around this matter.

“Bradford is a city with great potential and opportunity, but if we are to see this fantastic place grow and prosper then it needs the NPR new line going through it with a new major station for Bradford. How can it be right that the 6th biggest city in the UK does not have an adequate rail service?

“We have been consistently clear that we need a transport system that works for people who live here, and this means having a NPR stop in Bradford.

“We welcome the Transpennine Route Upgrade programme, but we’ve been clear that this should be as well as Northern Powerhouse Rail, not instead of it.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, also commented: “In the Prime Minister’s first major policy speech in Manchester, he committed to building Northern Powerhouse Rail across the Pennines.

“Rumours that this commitment will be broken are deeply concerning for Northern leaders who are working towards rebalancing the economy.

“The North was promised HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in full – to be abandoned now, just as we begin a recovery from the pandemic, would be a hammer blow.”

He urged that the an Integrated Rail Plan be published before the summer recess.

The news of these plans come less than a month after the Government revealed plans to invest £317m into the existing routes connecting York, Leeds and Manchester and creating new stations. However the North’s business and political leaders also called for the Government to publish a long-term plan for the region’s rail network and provide essential certainty on investment and delivery of major projects.

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