Boris Johnson
Johnson: 'We're getting on top of our priorities, investing in Northern transport'

PM ‘absolutely committed’ to Northern Powerhouse Rail

Sarah Townsend

Boris Johnson has refuted reports that the Government plans to scrap the proposed east-west Northern rail link, saying it is a key plank of the levelling up agenda.

A spokesman from Downing Street on Tuesday said: “We’re getting on top of our priorities of levelling up and investing in northern transport.

The Government is “absolutely committed” to delivering the project, the statement added.

The Department for Transport said: “The Integrated Rail Plan will soon outline exactly how major rail projects including HS2 phase 2b and Northern Powerhouse Rail will work together to deliver reliable train services that passengers need and deserve.”

The Integrated Rail Plan, due to be published later this year, is expected to set out the exact details of how Whitehall intends to fund future transport schemes across the UK.

The Sunday Express reported at the weekend that Treasury and DfT officials were meeting two days ago to discuss the future of rail funding. The newspaper cited “well-placed sources” as revealing that available funds have been swallowed up by the HS2 high speed rail project and that the officials intended to “effectively kill” the NPR plan.

Regional rail industry body Transport for the North has described NPR as “future defining”. The proposals include a new line between Manchester and Liverpool, include a cross-Pennine line linking Newcastle, Leeds, Hull and Sheffield with Manchester and Liverpool, upgrades and electrifications of existing services and other work to improve east-west connectivity.

TfN submitted its detailed proposals for the project to the Government earlier this year.

The organisation’s Rail North Committee is meeting this morning to discuss its priorities for the rest of the year. In papers published ahead of the meeting, it states that, among other objectives, it intends to “work closely with the DfT to develop a roadmap that delivers the required interventions and infrastructure to…increase capacity for a future delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail”.

Interim chief executive Tim Wood said in a statement to Place North West on Monday that the NPR proposal “provides a step change in capacity and resilience for both passengers and freight and move us away from an ageing Victorian railway between Manchester and Leeds…

“We now await the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan by Government, due soon to transform connectivity across the North including great cities like Bradford which has been held back for far too long.”

Northern Powerhouse Rail

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The release date for the Integrated Rail Plan has been “soon” since about November 2020.

By Anonymous

To be fair, he has done more in two years for the North than Blair did in ten. The problem with Boris is he is dealing with LondonCentric civil servants.

By Elephant

The trouble is no one can now be certain anything the prime minister says is definitely going to happen….he makes promises that seem to then change or disappear. Slight worry is the delay.. possibly till after the forthcoming by-election….or even an announcement over the summer recess. Will just wait and see!

By George

If…IF… this gets delivered it would be absolutely transformational. HS2 is a bit meh when we’re already 2 hours away from the Big Smoke, meanwhile standing room only to Leeds, Sheffield et al and journey times no different to the Victorian times really do hold us back. Connecting the north would be huge. Let’s hope MPs, local leaders and civil servants can get this through.

By NT

Not going to happen, the Tories have little interest in the North.

By Monty

Firstly, Elephant for 30 years the skylines of northern cities hardly changed. Blair came to power then skyscrapers sprang up.

By John

The eastern leg of HS2 is redundant. The improved MML will near match London to Sheffield times. The gradual upgrading of the ECML to 140mph with digital signals will again match HS2 time to the eastern cities. That is where the cuts should be.

There are three mainline that run north with two the eastern side of the Pennines, giving backup if one is down for any reason. The western side only has one, the WCML. HS2 needs to go to Crewe only, as any money spend after Crewe is near impossible to justify over upgrading existing lines. Arguably the most important cities are west of the Pennines, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh (via Carstairs). The west of the country may need the extra line. HS2 is not particularly fast, as the London-Birmingham section is quite slow at an average of 116mph for the 100 miles covered.

NPR is the key to the North, not another fast line to London. It has to be “high-speed” not just electrifying existing winding lines. A direct ‘base’ tunnel is needed under the Pennines.

By John

Blair had absolutely nothing to do with with skyscrapers springing up in Northern cities. He was no more a friend of the North than any of his ilk.

By Pete moss