North England’s mayors and councilors have refused to abandon a new east-west high-speed rail line, calling for talks with the government to discuss alternative funding models.
A meeting of politicians on the board of Transport for the North, the statutory body created to advise the government on the region’s transport needs, was held in Leeds on Wednesday. They discussed the government’s announcement of its new integrated rail plan, which was condemned as a “betrayal” of the North.
One of the biggest omissions is the downsizing of the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project, including the removal of a new high-speed line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of the Greater Manchester Underground, said admitting defeat would “fail generations to come”. He added: “We would accept a smaller economy in the north of England for the rest of our lives. It’s not politics… it’s about making us do the right thing.
He put forward a motion, unanimously accepted by Labor and Tory MPs, to ask the government for a mediation process. “I would be ready to consider ways to unlock the local contribution to improve what is on offer and bring us to the right solution,” he said.
“I didn’t hear any ministers last week saying anything other than cost was the reason we couldn’t have a new line through Bradford. If so, let’s sit down with the ministers and discuss how we will close this gap. “
Burnham said the money could come from the increase in land values that a new line would bring. Bradford is considered one of the biggest losers in last week’s rail announcement. Burnham said the townspeople “were getting next to nothing. Third class… forgotten.
Labor mayors and council heads took turns to voice their anger at the government’s rail plan. West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin called it a ‘leveling-up betrayal’ which was not fair, transparent or clear.
In the North East of England, there has been huge disappointment that a £ 600million plan to re-establish the severed Leamside Line through County Durham, using existing infrastructure, was not in the plan.
Jamie Driscoll, the mayor of North Tyne, said the region was “getting nothing” from the government’s plan. “I’m so hacked that I think the best thing we can do is move all that money north and let us decide how to spend it,” he said.
Daren Hale, the head of Hull City Council, said the plan was “almost a Beeching moment” that actually took Hull “off the UK rail map”.
A dissident was Tory North Yorkshire adviser Don Mackenzie, who said: “If I were a member of government listening to what is being said today, to well-prepared political statements … I would like to do as little as possible with this advice. administration. ”