Northern Tories says the plan to focus on upgrading existing lines rather than building a new line over Bradford is “disappointing” and risks being a “missed opportunity”.
Tory MPs said they were “disappointed” with Boris Johnson’s decision to soften his promise to fund a new high-speed rail link in northern England by focusing instead on upgrades.
The important Leeds-Manchester section of the planned Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will be delivered mainly through upgrades on the existing Transpennine route rather than a new route via Bradford. I unveiled on Sunday.
Former Tory Secretary of Transportation Robert Goodwill said I it is “disappointing” because Great Britain needs a “comprehensive high-speed rail network”.
He acknowledged the need to see whether passenger numbers recover from the Covid pandemic or whether significant numbers continue to work at home, and urged ministers to maintain “safety precautions” that include the construction of a new NPR line in Would enable the future.
However, he raised concerns that upgrades could cause delays, adding, “It is disappointing that we will not be performing at full capacity on HS2 and East-West Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake said: “Unless the government can find some other way to cut travel times in half and increase capacity between Bradford, Leeds and Manchester and other major cities in the north, this is a very significant missed economic one Opportunity for residents, businesses and UK plc. “
West Yorkshire Labor Mayor Tracy Brabin has written to offer Mr Johnson to work with him to ensure that the HS2 east route to Leeds which is being scrapped and the NPR are fully delivered.
“The government has a choice to make,” she wrote to the Prime Minister.
“It can choose to unlock the potential of the north, or it can let us down again.”
Downing Street refused to say Monday whether Mr Johnson’s promise to build a new rail line between Leeds and Manchester was still up.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are committed to transforming rail links in the Midlands and the North with shorter travel times and an accelerated delivery schedule that will allow us to bring real benefits to communities as soon as possible. “