Northern leaders react to the government’s Integrated Rail Plan

The government’s £96bn Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands has been met by criticism from local authorities in the North of England, following the Transport Secretary’s decision to cut back the eastern leg of HS2 to terminate in the East Midlands.

The new Integrated Rail Plan includes the completion of HS2 from Crewe to Manchester, a new high-speed line between Birmingham and East Midlands, a new high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and Marsden.

It also details plans to upgrade or electrify the existing Midland Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Transpennine Main Line, alongside a programme of fares and ticketing reform and a study to took at the best way to take HS2 trains to Leeds.

However, the new plans mean that the leg of HS2 that was expected to connect Leeds with the East Midlands has been scrapped, leaving Leeds City Council ‘extremely disappointed and frustrated’.

gray train rails

Cllr James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, responded to the publication of the plan: ‘After more than 10 years of effort, investment and planning based on the government’s clear proposal to bring HS2 to Leeds, we have been left extremely disappointed and frustrated by today’s announcement which only offers more studies, reviews and uncertainty for high-speed connections to our city – but, sadly, we are not surprised.

‘This is not the first time our city has been promised major infrastructure investment, only for it to be curtailed or cancelled. It is 10 years this month since the Transpennine Route upgrade was announced, yet we are still waiting for the fully-defined scheme, and it is 30 years since the idea of a “supertram” was first mentioned.’

Northern Mayors, including Tracy Brabin, Dan Jarvis, Steve Rotheram, Jamie Driscoll and Andy Burnham, have called on the PM to allow a free vote in Parliament on the government’s Integrated Rail Plan, to allow people from the North to have their say.

The letter reads: ‘As political and business leaders representing the North of England, we are writing to express our concerns over today’s announcement of the Integrated Rail Plan. We are concerned that by omitting both the Eastern Leg of HS2 and the new Leeds to Liverpool route of Northern Powerhouse Rail – with stops in central Bradford, Manchester and Warrington – you have failed to fully consider the advice of independent rail reviews, the ambitions of Northern leaders, and the appeals of our businesses.

‘Your decision, contrary to your ambition to “level-up” the North, runs the risk of holding back our regional economies and compromising our plans to cut carbon emissions, just days after we hosted COP-26. People across the North were excited by your promise of new rail infrastructure and the benefits of a better-connected North – not only quicker travel times but more jobs and homes, new investment and regeneration, and better opportunities for our young people. In our view, this pared-back plan will not unlock the full potential of the North of England.

‘These decisions go beyond party politics and indeed our generation. They are critical to the future of the North for the next 100 years and more. Given this, we believe elected representatives in all parts of the country should have an opportunity to consider whether your proposals represent a fair deal for their constituents before they are finalised.’

Photo by Kholodnitskiy Maksim


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top