Response to Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North
The Combined Authority has set out its response to the publication by the National Infrastructure Commission
Responding to the National Infrastructure Commission’s Rail Needs Assessment, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said:
“Now more than ever, the North needs the Government to signal strongly to our communities, our businesses and potential investors that it supports our ambitions to improve standards of living for all our communities. Any move to deprioritise the eastern leg of HS2 would be to do precisely the opposite at the worst possible time.
“The limited remit of the National Infrastructure Commission means its report is based on a set of narrow considerations that fail to address the broader implications for our transport network and economic ambitions.
“HS2 is fundamental to delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail and major investment in Leeds Station but it is more than a transport project. As part of an integrated transport network it is fundamental to our plans for regeneration and inward investment and would help inspire a generation of engineers, exemplified by the Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration.
“Continued uncertainty around this project will blight businesses and communities while also undermining plans which have been in development for a decade. The Government must now be clear that it will honour its commitment to deliver the eastern leg of HS2 in full and do so on the same timescale as the western leg.”
Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, co-chair of HS2 East and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead, said:
“The Government has previously committed to delivering the eastern leg of HS2 in full, which could create 50,000 jobs and add £54bn to the West Yorkshire economy by 2050, and should move quickly now to end the damaging uncertainty around this investment around which we have been planning for years and commit to delivery on the same timescale as the western leg. Failing to do so risks blighting swathes of key development land in Leeds City Centre with the consequences for job creation and our economy.
“We have set out an ambition for a minimum of two trains per hour to serve every West Yorkshire rail station with up to six per hour on major routes, as part of an integrated transport system. HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail with a new line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford city centre, in addition to the upgrade in full of the trans-Pennine line, are all needed to provide the capacity that supports this vision and the benefits it will deliver for our communities.
“Delaying, downgrading or cancelling the eastern leg of HS2 will do nothing to accelerate the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will rely on HS2 infrastructure, or other projects. It will merely ensure that the North of England has to wait longer to see the additional capacity our rail network desperately needs to improve the local, regional and national services that are critical to our economy.
“We need to break the cycle of promise followed by downgrade or cancellation when it comes to transport investment in the North and have long-term whole network planning that supports our drive to raise living standards for all.”