HS2 Train
The controversial HS2 rail link was given the go-ahead by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month

Gov’t must help North escape infrastructure ‘straightjacket’

Dan Whelan

Transport for the North has backed the Government’s plans to dovetail High Speed 2 with rail projects in the North, saying “the sooner we start delivering these improvements, the sooner passengers will get the modern rail services they deserve”.

The Department for Transport on Friday proposed drawing up an Integrated Rail Plan to help bring forward “transformational rail improvements along the HS2 route as quickly as possible”.

The Prime Minister had previously said that such a strategy would be informed by the findings of an assessment by the National Infrastructure Committee.

The DfT said it would consider how best to integrate phase 2b of the HS2 rail route, the section that connects Crewe to Manchester, with other transport plans in the North and Midlands, including Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Liverpool-Leeds link also known as High Speed 3, as well as how best to reduce costs.

Barry White, chief executive of Transport for the North, said in a statement: “The North’s economy has struggled for too long in the straightjacket of poor infrastructure and cannot wait any longer before these problems are addressed.

“It is positive that the Government has made speeding up the delivery of infrastructure benefits to the North a basic tenet of this rail investment plan. We can’t wait at the back of the queue while major schemes progress elsewhere.”

The Integrated Rail Plan will look at how best to dovetail schemes like HS2 and Network Rail’s enhancements, alongside the “much-needed” Northern Powerhouse Rail, White added: “That work must be focused on delivering the maximum economic, social and environmental benefits for the North’s communities.

“Exploring efficiencies can’t be shorthand for cutting ambition. We also need to ensure that the voice of the North is heard loud and clear in determining how and when this work should take place.”

The Integrated Rail Plan is expected to be published by the end of the year.

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There are 15 million people in the North. Give us our trains. The North is not East Anglia or the West Country so stop treating us like we are. More people live in between Manchester and Liverpool on the M62 corridor than Scotland and Wales combined. This neglect of our infrastructure has gone on long enough. I would like to remind the Tories as a person living in one of their marginals. God giveth and God can just as easily taketh away.

By Elephant

Re-open the closed lines in the region. The connectivity between Northern towns is awful!

By Acelius

We have been promised Trans Pennine Rail Improvements for 40 years – the only way we will ever get parity is to break away from Westminster. On average there is 3-4 more times spent per capita head in the South than the North. We are nearly half a century away from parity never mind growing!!!

By Alan Y

Well said. The Northern Powerhouse Rail should not be limited to HS3 but also strategic connections to airports such as Liverpool, Leeds/ Bradford and Doncaster/ Sheffield. HS 2 should pass through Heathrow thus reducing the number of domestic flights and releasing landing slots for international routes. This could increase Heathrow passenger capacity by up to 20%, negating the need for a 3rd runway

By Eddie33

Exactly as Elephant says – and to add to it. The area surrounding Manchester with Liverpool, Blackpool, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Chester is the (equal) third largest true megalopolis in Europe with a population of 12 million people after London and Paris. It’s equal with the Rhine Ruhr which has a slightly smaller population in similar area. The difference between the Rhein Ruhr and ours is enormous. The Germans see and understand the power of this region. It has a proper name (Rhein Ruhr) a combined public transport network with single governing authority called the VRR (Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr) with 5 separate tube networks (u-bahns), 5 separate tram networks and a fully integrated S-bahn system. Imagine if we had a loacl rail network this good! https://tinyurl.com/qwajjgk and these are the fast links: https://tinyurl.com/s88be8y and this before we even mention the 100 year old monorail in Wuppertal. What do we have in comparison? No of tube networks: 0 Number of effective suburban networks 1 (Merseyrail and even that is just almost being considered effective) with 3 tram networks. Some cities like Leeds, Bradford or Chester have no rapid rail transits systems of any form.

By EOD

EOD makes good points but the North West should have been devolved as a region. Manchester and Liverpool have devolution and their hinterlands but this does not help people in Accrington or Poulton Le Fylde. The North West should have been devolved at least to the same level as Wales with an assembly based in Lancaster to prevent Manchester and Liverpool dominating too much. This could have included representatives from Cumbria, post 1974 Lancashire and Cheshire. With the current set up Wigan and St Helens are devolved and Ormskirk isn’t. It is ridiculous.

By Elephant

That would be the Adonis-tainted National Infrastructure Committee that published a report suggesting that cities should get spending that reflects its size… and then placed major city Liverpool below middle sized Nottingham.

Their reports are typically riddled with Centre for Cities “statistics” to back up whatever it is they want to do.

If you want evidence of what the National Infrastructure Committee can and will achieve, look no further than the ill judged, warped yet £100bn and rising, out of control, Liverpool-damaging and Liverpool-excluding HS2. Same personalities and personality types, and same strange agendas.

It’s astonishing how the London School of Economics manages to produce so many well-connected people who appear to have skipped the budgeting lessons. Especially when they seem so hot on this subject when it comes to reinvesting some of Liverpool’s taxation into Liverpool.

I have no idea where the Echo have got it into their minds that Liverpool has received any kind of commitment on infrastructure. The only commitment it currently has is the axing of most of its East Midlands trains services from 2021… you probably heard it here first.

By Mike

Some good comments here. That the North needs top class rail is a given. The key is the Liverpool to Hull NPR. That could also extend to North Wales via Liverpool. This if done properly is national linear hub. All north South mainlines, inc’ HS2 if it gets that far north, will intersect the east-west line.

The line needs to be as straight as possible, via east-west Manchester Victoria, not having a deviation to Manchester Airport, and also an essential ‘base’ tunnel under the Pennines. Manchester airport can be served by a branch from NPR.

If HS2 gets further north than Crewe, then Liverpool and Manchester can use NPR for HS2 trains to enter each city.

By John

Mcr doesn’t have an infrastructure straightjacket. That applies to everyone else. What Mcr wanted Mcr got. Under any government. Draining NW road and rail budgets.

By Ben

John makes good points but for Manchester airport to not be linked to one of the HS lines would be like going to the Tower of London and not seeing the Crown Jewels. I was recently in Vienna and the efficient way customers can get to the centre of the city was a marvel. That three mile walk to Manchester airport station is an embarrassment.

By Elephant

The above report doesn’t say how a Metro will improve travel from outlying towns to the cities within the Northern regions

By Clive Broadhead

If the current HS2 plans need to cost less, why shouldn’t there be just one line to Manchester which then links into HS3 and goes on to Liverpool in one direction and Leeds in the other. The extra time will be minimal, and both lines can be fully integrated. The East Midlands would lose out, but costs should be much lower.

By Anon