Lord McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North (TfN) has responded to reports that Northern Powerhouse Rail will be scaled back.
Lord McLoughlin said: “We will wait to see in two weeks’ time what the Autumn Statement says, but the Chancellor made clear in his first statement to the House of Commons last month that he sees capital spending as vital to a credible economic growth strategy; and as TfN’s research has shown, on those terms alone Northern Powerhouse Rail is beneficial to both the national and northern economies.”
“In addition, the last Conservative manifesto was clear on its commitment to build NPR. And furthermore, the Transport Select Committee recommended in August, that the government should revisit the evidence base for the decisions that were made on NPR in the Integrated Rail Plan, and the Chair of that committee then is the new Rail Minister.
“TfN Members are clear that building NPR in full via Bradford is the best option to provide the solution to the capacity constraints on our rail network and underpin the long-term sustainable economic growth for our region.”
The response comes after reports over the weekend that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has shelved predecessor Liz Truss’s promise to build a new high-speed railway station in Bradford on a proposed line connecting Liverpool and Hull.
Ms Truss indicated in October that she would reverse a decision to rein in the NPR project. However, Mr Sunak is set to scale back the project as he seeks £50 billion in savings. A spokesman indicated he would revert to the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), announced by Boris Johnson in 2021.
Under the IRP, proposals for a new high-speed line from Manchester to Leeds and a later extension from Liverpool to Hull would be replaced with an upgrade of the existing track.
Business Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC on Friday 4 November: “The line itself can deliver a 33-minute journey from Manchester to Leeds, quadruple nearly the capacity of that line, and do so without having to wait an extra 20 years beyond the delivery of what the upgrade can do.
“There wasn’t really much point in going and blasting new tunnels through the Pennines.”
Image credit: Transport for the North