The Integrated Rail Plan left several issues unresolved.
The Integrated Rail Plan left several issues unresolved. How to get high speed trains into Leeds from the Midlands is subject to yet another round of expensive investigation. We know that in order to do this without impacting other services, a new station will be needed, and will continue to make the case for this and the additional capacity a new line would bring. We’re keen to make sure this review happens quickly, and have proposed a way forward which would involve local government, the railway sector and Whitehall officials.
The TransPennine Route Upgrade – which has been promised for more than a decade – will bring benefits to towns and communities along the line. But we need to work with government, with Network Rail, with the operators, to limit the disruption that this will cause, and ensure that rail users are not left with skeleton services while work is completed. The Secretary of State sought to minimise legitimate concerns about this in his piece yesterday, but I will ensure he fully understands what is at stake. We cannot afford to get this wrong.
For our economy, health and environment
I will not stop making the case for a new line between Leeds and Manchester, with a stop in Bradford. It is too important to our region, too important to our future, to simply let this go. It is wrong to say that a new line would not provide value for money for the taxpayer. Yes, it would require more resources, but what about the impact that would have more broadly on our local, regional and national economy? On health and well-being locally? On access to opportunity? On air quality? On the environment? It seems to me that these issues weren’t properly considered.
Infrastructure investment decisions leave a legacy that will last a century or more, far beyond the political cycles Ministers too often work in. I’m fully aware that the decisions I and my fellow leaders in West Yorkshire will make about Mass Transit over the coming years will have a lasting impact on the region far beyond my electoral term.
This is the ultimate tragedy of the Integrated Rail Plan. The decisions made by the Secretary of State and his colleagues in the Treasury will long outlast him. With the febrile atmosphere in Westminster these last few days, there’s every chance that his government will not see out the next few months, and we’ll have another Secretary of State, another Chancellor, and another Prime Minister. But what won’t change is the needs of our region, the needs of our people. I represent the people of West Yorkshire and will always stand up for them and will never apologise for doing so, whoever is in government.