Boris Johnson will unveil a long overdue integrated rail plan for the Midlands and the North of England today, touted as the biggest investment ever in rail infrastructure with £ 96bn pledged to improve existing routes.
The plan should confirm that HS2 will be reduced – with its eastern section extending to Leeds canceled – and the trans-Pennine Northern Powerhouse route removed despite the Prime Minister publicly pledging to deliver both in the past two years.
In a press release that did not contain any details of the plan, the Transport Department said the new plan had been drawn up “after it became clear that the full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail programs as originally proposed n ‘would enter service only from the beginning to the middle -2040’.
He said the new plans would offer “similar or faster” travel times than the original HS2 and Manchester-Leeds programs.
The Northern Powerhouse Partnership said the cuts, which will lead to improvements on the existing Trans-Pennine line, will save just £ 4 billion and shorten commuters and businesses.
“Diluting Northern Powerhouse Rail for just 10% of the overall initial £ 39bn budget is unforgivable on the part of the Treasury,” said Director Henri Murison.
“We were promised a new line between Manchester and Leeds, which could have included a stop in Bradford, one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, where productivity is hampered by woefully poor transport links.
“Now it looks like we’re only getting one upgrade, which won’t solve the capacity issue on this key stretch of road in any way.
“We will not be fooled into believing that we are getting £ 96 billion for a transport revolution in the North. “
Susan Hinchcliffe, head of Bradford City Council, told Sky News she feared the city would be left without a new line and station to better connect its 500,000 residents to the area.
“I can’t believe they will make a decision that will exclude Bradford from Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“There is such an opportunity here, we are the largest city in the UK that is not on a main train line and we are also the youngest town in the UK, with 25% of the population aged under the age of 16.
“London to Reading takes 20 minutes, it’s the same distance as between Manchester and Bradford, which takes about an hour.
“We need that level of connectivity in the North, but it’s also about the transformational impact of connecting large cities in the North, including among themselves, and the impact that this has on the downtown. city and towns where they are located.
“New businesses to come, better jobs, people able to work in one part of the North and live in another, all of this creates a much more vibrant and prosperous economy.
“Northerners are resigned to having a bad business for many, many years.
“I believe we can be better, we should have better for the North, we shouldn’t just have second class service in the North of England. “
The cuts will raise questions about the Prime Minister’s oft-quoted ‘leveling’ program, designed to spread wealth beyond south-east England, leaving him vulnerable to a charge of breaking a pledge made to the new ones. Conservative voters in the North.
In a statement, he said, “If we are to see leveling in action now, we need to quickly transform the services that matter most to people.
“This is why the Integrated Rail Plan will be the largest transport investment program in a century, providing meaningful transport links for more passengers across the country, more quickly – with both long journeys. speed and better local services, it won’t guarantee any town or city is left behind. ”