Cllr Richard Farnell, leader of Rochdale Council and Greater Manchester’s portfolio lead for housing and planning, has warned that lack of investment in Northern high-speed rail could lead to “our own version of Donald Trump”.
Farnell said the Government should give more urgency to the creation of new high-speed rail links in the North, as he called for the HS2 and HS3 proposals to be fast-tracked.
He said: “Millions of Americans living in left-behind areas have grown tired of waiting for change so voted in a way that would make people sit up and take notice. In the UK we have areas like the North of England where people are becoming increasingly frustrated at the vast regional disparities in investment and opportunities we have in this country.
“They watch as London builds another Crossrail or another bridge over the Thames or a new tube line and wonder why big infrastructure like HS2 and HS3 are still being talked about after many years. HS1 from London to the Channel Tunnel opened in 2007, so why are we still talking about another 17 years before HS2 opens?”
Farnell spoke out after revised plans for the proposed HS2 line from London to the North of England were revealed last week. He said HS2 and HS3, the rail link between Liverpool and Hull, should now be prioritised.
He added: “Greater Manchester is pressing for rail improvements, like better rolling stock and increased frequency, but many people in our region are still commuting to work in overcrowded Pacer trains that were deemed unfit for the South of England more than 30 years ago.
“Brexit showed us that there is a feeling of resentment in many areas. We must not add to that. The dangers of not pressing on with high-speed rail links in the North is that it will add to the sense that large parts of this country are being left behind and that wealth and opportunities are being created elsewhere. The government must act quickly or we will end up with our own version of Donald Trump.”