Details of a £96bn investment that the prime minister vows will transform Britain’s rail network are set to be unveiled on Thursday.
North of England and the Midlands will receive the majority of this money. It is considered the largest ever public rail investment.
The government has decided to cut a section of the HS2 high-speed line linking the East Midlands with Leeds out of anger.
Boris Johnson is going to argue that the benefits of this new package are more immediate.
Department for Transport (DfT), claims that the IRP will reduce travel times, capacity and time between London and the Pennines. It also “strengthens connections between major North and Midlands cities”.
The DfT stated that there will be an emphasis on local services and some projects may even get completed 10 years sooner than expected.
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Johnson spoke ahead of the formal announcement on Thursday, saying: “If action is to level up, then we need to quickly transform those services that are most important to us.”
“The Integrated Rail Plan is the largest transport investment program in a century. It will provide meaningful transport connections across the country for more people, faster, and with better services.
After the 2020 Oakervee Review of major transport schemes, including HS2 or Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), the IRP was established.
Recently, the prime minister was under fire for claiming that his government plans to “water down” planned North England rail upgrade projects.
It is not clear that there will be any improvements in the NPR East-West connections throughout the North. These upgrades are more likely to include upgrading existing infrastructure than the construction of a new link between Manchester and Leeds.
Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council said Tuesday that he is “absolutely shocked” at the claim that the area would be “bypassed”, when new routes are developed elsewhere.
Young people are less likely to stay.
Nick Garthwaite, director of chemical manufacturer Christeyns Ltd and vice chair of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, is disappointed by the news.
He told BBC News that he felt the city had been abandoned and the people of Bradford were betrayed. “We might not receive the through railroad station that Bradford desperately needs, and was indeed promised over a long time by the government,” he said.
Bradford businesses have to be more attractive to talent. Therefore, poor transport connections are a concern.
He said, “What worries me is that the young and talented Bradfordians will think twice about moving to another city for their professional development.”
Are you willing to travel an hour and half by train?
Garthwaite stated that it is likely that other businesses will also be interested in locating factories elsewhere in England.
These concerns are shared by many others. A student said to the BBC that young people moved away from Bradford and Leeds in order to move to Nottingham and Manchester because of the poor transport connections.
She stated, “I am not staying in Leeds or Bradford as it is not reliable enough.”
Reports have indicated that HS2 trains still will serve Leeds but they will travel on mainline tracks north from the East Midlands. This could lead to savings in the tens or hundreds of billions.
On Tuesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps spoke to PA News Agency. He said that:[People in the North]You should be positive.
We will not only spend huge amounts of money on this but we will deliver it years before anyone else.
He also said that if he were transport secretary with responsibility for High Speed 2, 15 years ago, then “I’d have started in North America and gone south. I believe that would have been logical.”
He said: “The Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Connect – these weren’t there when HS2 first came out, but now we are here and it is being built, so we must make sure it all connects up, which is what the Integrated Rail Plan aims to do.”
Mick Whelan (general secretary of Aslef’s train driver union) accused the government using smoke and mirrors while it broke its promises.
“HS2 was intended to be an international-beater. It put Britain (the country that opened the railways around the globe) back on the industrial, economic and political map. But, instead of us falling apart,” he stated.
“This government has broken its promises. It’s announced Northern Powerhouse Rail sixty times. We know this because we counted. And now, it throws the project away.
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