Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley, said: “It’s always been difficult to defend him because it’s not about speed, it’s about capacity. I would have preferred it to be called The Great Northern Railway and to have part of the vision the Victorians had.
“The environmental benefits haven’t been sold either, when it comes to taking freight off the roads. I was really disappointed by the lack of strong support from the Labor Party. We needed real support from all parties to bring the communities with us, because it would never have been a project built by one party. “
Another Red Wall MP said: ‘After all the extra money that has been spent in the south to get the HS2 to Birmingham, leaving the North out is not a good thing. “
Jake Berry, the former Northern Powerhouse minister, warned: “It is the crucial link for many Red Wall headquarters and our capital and is seen by many as essential to the ‘level-up’ agenda of the United States. government.”
“It’s still a big investment”
In an attempt to counter criticism, the government is expected to announce modernization of a 42-mile stretch of railway from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway, just south of Nottingham, slashing journey times from 72 to 27 minutes.
The 23-mile link between Sheffield and Leeds will be upgraded to cut journey times from 42 to 24 minutes, while Leeds will receive money to develop its own tram network as a consolation. Completing the West Branch will cut journey times between Manchester and Birmingham from 90 to 40 minutes.
Ministers argue that the package will provide many benefits of faster travel and increased capacity 10 years earlier than the HS2, which would not be completed until the 2040s. “It’s all about pragmatism and speed and it’s still a huge investment, ”said a source.
The integrated rail plan will restore local roads cut off in the Beeching Cuts of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Don Valley line between Sheffield and Stockbridge in Yorkshire, the Stockport line to Ashton in the northwest and the Okehampton line to Exeter.
Some £ 360million will be provided to modernize ticketing and rail systems with traditional paper tickets replaced by contactless systems, as in London, while travelers will be able to purchase a single ticket recognized by all rail companies for reduce the complexity of multiple purchases.