Metro Chairman Cllr James Lewis says ‘alarm bells are ringing across the north of England after Rail Minster Theresa Villiers cast doubt on the future of a major rail improvement scheme’ during a recent visit to Leeds.
“During her speech to last week’s Northern Rail Summit at Leeds’ Malmaison Hotel, Mrs Villiers indicated that the Northern Hub, the rail industry’s key scheme for improving train services across northern England, unlikely to be implemented as a whole because of its high cost,” said Cllr Lewis.
“With the Government claiming it wants to close the north south divide you would think ministers would find a way of supporting a rail scheme that will underpin growth right across the north of England, helping to create thousands of jobs by bring key economic centres closer together,” he continued.
“Particularly as the scheme would deliver over £4bn of benefits for a capital cost of £530 million.
“However with completion nearing on the £1/2bn upgrade of London’s Kings Cross rail station, which will complement the £1/2bn revamp of London’s Kings Cross Underground station booking hall, the £1/2bn refurbishment of London’s Victoria Station starting this year and the £16bn London Crossrail project underway, you can understand why money for schemes in the north must be tight.
“Rather than the Crossrail Two route already being mooted for the overheated, overcrowded capital, what’s needed is a Crossrail One for the north which the Northern Hub plan would deliver in spades.
“And at £4 of benefit for every £1 spent, how can the country not afford it?” Cllr Lewis said.