England’s Scaled-Up Rail Plans Not A Betrayal, Says Grant Shapps

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Promises to modernize links for the north and the Midlands have not been broken by the government in its reduced rail plan for the region, insisted Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, amid a storm of multi-party criticism from leaders. in the north of England.

The integrated rail plan, released on Thursday, called for a reduction in the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project and the removal of the East Midlands-Leeds high-speed line, with HS2 trains running on the upgraded existing routes instead.

Conservative MPs were among the furious critics of the Commons on Thursday, Huw Merriman, who chairs the select transportation committee, suggested Johnson “sell perpetual sunlight and then leave it to others to explain the arrival of the commons.” moonlight ”.

On Friday morning, Labor leader Keir Starmer said the scaled-down plans “had betrayed the people of the north” and were a “second class option”.

Responding to criticism on Sky News, Shapps said: “This will have been the only time in history where the massive improvement in rail services for everyone has been seen as a betrayal. It’s a strange approach.

When asked on Sky News why the promises he made on Project NPR and the eastern part of HS2 were not being kept, Shapps appeared to suggest that both projects were moving forward.

“They are absolutely in the process of being accomplished,” he said. “First of all, we produce this trip of about 30 minutes from Manchester to Leeds, or to give you another example, Manchester to Liverpool in 35 minutes, so we give that interconnectivity, that connection that you might have in the south. , in the north. “

He added: “Regarding HS2, we will deliver HS2 trains, [we are looking at] the best way to do it in Leeds.

“The plan for HS2 was designed 15+ years ago. What we want to do is make sure it actually fits into these plans for the Northern Powerhouse Rail that we’re building. It is the line that crosses, including the high-speed train, that will make these dramatic time differences. “

Shapps said £ 96bn was pumped into the plan and insisted “the eastern leg will be developed”.

He added: “The only disconnect is in some of the complaints from, I have to say, largely Labor leaders, which are completely misleading people. “

He said if critics looked at the list of travel times in the plans, they and their residents would see that “they will be able to move much faster from virtually any location to virtually any location.”

Called upon by the fact that “predominantly Labor leaders” are complaining, Shapps was informed of criticism from Tory MPs, including Merriman.

Shapps said some of those named were long-term opponents of HS2, and added that they were “partially cited” and had shown support for certain aspects of the plan.

Appearing on live BBC Radio 5, Starmer said: “The government has torn up those promises and betrayed the people of the north. I was in Bradford yesterday and the anger is palpable.

“People have a very strong feeling that promises have been made to them and that they have just been torn apart. The idea that “leveling up” is anything other than a slogan has been completely swept away by what happened yesterday.

“The interest of the HS2 was a high speed line to Leeds. The whole point of Northern Powerhouse Rail’s promise was a new line from Manchester to Leeds.

“Trying to upgrade what you have is a second class option for the north. “

The HS2 high-speed rail network will go to Manchester, it has been confirmed, but the eastern section will end at an existing station in the East Midlands rather than going from Birmingham to Leeds. Another section will be built west and east of Manchester from Warrington to Marsden, but the TransPennine route at the heart of the NPR project will rely on upgrades and electrification rather than a new line.

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