Tory MPs are ‘disappointed’ by the Northern Powerhouse Rail’s watering down.
The Northern Conservatives say the plan to focus on upgrading existing routes rather than building a new line through Bradford is ‘disappointing’ and could result in a’missed opportunity.’
Conservative MPs have expressed disappointment with Boris Johnson’s decision to focus on upgrades rather than a new high-speed rail link in the North of England.
I revealed on Sunday that the key Leeds-Manchester section of the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will be primarily delivered through upgrades to the existing Transpennine route rather than a new line via Bradford.
It was “disappointing,” Tory former transport minister Robert Goodwill told me, because the UK needs a “comprehensive high-speed rail network.”
He acknowledged that it was necessary to wait and see if passenger numbers recovered following the Covid pandemic or if a significant number of people continued to work at home, urging ministers to keep “safeguards” in place that would allow a new NPR line to be built in the future.
“It’s disappointing that we’re not going to go the full monty in terms of HS2 and east-west, Northern Powerhouse Rail,” he said, adding that upgrades could cause delays.
“Unless the Government can find another way to halve journey times and increase capacity between Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, and other key northern towns and cities, it’s a huge missed economic opportunity for local residents, businesses, and UK plc,” Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake said.
Tracy Brabin, the Labour mayor of West Yorkshire, has written to Mr Johnson, offering to work with him to ensure the completion of the HS2 eastern leg to Leeds, which has been scrapped, and the NPR.
“The government must make a decision,” she wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron.
“It can choose to unlock the North’s potential or let us down once more.”
On Monday, Downing Street refused to say whether Mr Johnson’s promise to build a new rail line connecting Leeds and Manchester was still on the table.
“We are committed to transforming rail connections across the Midlands and North with shorter journey times and an accelerated delivery schedule that allows us to bring real benefits to communities as soon as possible,” said the PM’s official spokesman.
Northern Powerhouse Rail has been watered down, which has disappointed Conservative MPs.
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Tory MPs ‘disappointed’ over watering down of Northern Powerhouse Rail