LITTLE DETAIL: Commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail Welcomed
Commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail Welcomed
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail has been welcomed, although local political leaders have pointed out there is still very little detail on the proposals.
Northern Powerhouse Rail will be a high speed rail line linking the East and West coasts of England. When complete it would be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country’s history.
For years there has been a push for the scheme to include a stop in Bradford.
But from the beginning of the NPR push, the Government has been vague on what exactly the line would look like, and where it would stop.
After promising that an announcement on NPR would be made this week, Johnson did refer to it in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference today.
However, he remained vague, only saying the Government would “do Northern Powerhouse Rail” and that it would “link up the cities of the midlands and the North.”
He did not provide any details of where the line would stop, or what the timetable for the huge infrastructure would be.
Earlier this year Councillor Susan Hinchciffe, Leader of Bradford Council proposed the site of St James Wholesale Market as a possible NPR stop. In response to the PM’s speech she said: “We welcome this Government’s renewed commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail but are keen to find out more about the detail.
“While Northern Powerhouse Rail will revolutionise the life, work and leisure opportunities available to people and businesses across the north of England it is true to say that the city which will be most transformed by these better rail connections is Bradford.
“There is a compelling case for a new city centre station to be made a priority in the Integrated Rail Plan to better connect Bradford to Leeds and Manchester which will start boosting the economy of the north more quickly.
“A new train station in Bradford City Centre built to accommodate Northern Powerhouse Rail and better existing mainline rail services will unlock a central development area three times larger than Canary Wharf and slash journey times to Manchester by two-thirds and to Leeds by more than half. The benefits will be felt district wide.
“St James’ Market is a pragmatic and deliverable solution to deliver a new city centre station on a site owned by the council by 2030 and be part of the wider plans we are delivering as the UK’s leading clean growth city. The opportunity to deliver early, reducing costs is a priority the new station provides.
“A new city centre station in Bradford will cut the 44,000 daily car journeys between Leeds and Bradford further build on our holistic clean growth plans which received a large boost two weeks ago when the Council approved the creation of the UK’s largest clean growth testbed at Esholt, which will deliver 100,000m2 of workspace for biotech, cleantech and agritech businesses.
“When it renamed The Ministry of Housing the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities this government said its central mission was to level up every part of the UK. We believe strongly that Bradford district should be the poster child for Levelling Up.
“Earlier this week we wrote to Michael Gove and Andy Haldane to outline an opportunity to create the UK’s first Levelling Up Investment Area in Bradford, a new policy mechanism which will unlock new opportunities to regenerate Bradford district and towns and cities across the North. We look forward to discussing these plans with the government in the coming days.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Over the past week, rumours and speculation have been rife about the future of transport in West Yorkshire and the North. Today, we looked forward to hearing the Prime Minister put those rumours to bed and finally commit to delivering the integrated transport system and infrastructure that the North deserves and needs.
“Sadly, what we got was more rhetoric veiled under the slogan of “Build Back Better” and another promise of ‘Levelling Up’.
“In the Spending Review later this month, the time for rhetoric will be over. We need decisions. We need detail about the Government’s plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail. We need its delivery in full, with a stop in Bradford.
“We need HS2 East and new electrified lines across the Pennines.
“We agree that Leeds and West Yorkshire needs a mass transit system, and we continue to make the case to Government about how we can work together to deliver this.
“I also agree with the Prime Minister that there is a wealth of talent right across the country, but not a wealth of opportunity. Proper investment and a 21st century rail system would give us all of that, connecting our talent to more jobs, better opportunities and brighter futures.
“That is what ‘Levelling Up’ means to us.”
Tim Wood, Transport for the North’s Director of Northern Powerhouse Rail, said: “It was good to hear the Prime Minister say that the greatest challenge for the country was levelling up its economy and its society and that building Northern Powerhouse Rail was central to that.
“Like us, he recognised that poor rail links across the North are contributing to the national imbalance in our economy and called transport “the supreme leveller-upper”.
“We have worked collaboratively with the Government over the past two years to come up with a blueprint for a new rail network that will free the North from the constraints of poor infrastructure that have held it back for far too long.
“We need now to move at pace to make this NPR a reality. We stand ready to work with the Government to deliver for the North and for the whole country.”
Words: Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter
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