The Mayor of West Yorkshire has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister today urging him to keep his Integrated Rail Plan promises to the North.

The Mayor of West Yorkshire has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister tonight, urging him to keep the promises he's made to the North when he publishes the Integrated Rail Plan later this week.

15 November 2021

Tracy Brabin said: “The media reports this weekend suggesting that the Government will deliver a watered-down version of the essential rail links we need to level up the North are extremely worrying.

“If we are to give the people of the North the fair chance they deserve for prosperity, equality of opportunity and for the vital decarbonisation which will ensure we meet critical climate targets then the Government must give us the HS2 Eastern Leg in full and deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail, with the crucial new stop in central Bradford. This is alongside the upgrade and modernisation of the existing trans-Pennine route.

“The letter stresses that there is no room for breaking the promises that have been made many times by this Prime Minister to truly connect the great cities of the North. Levelling up is in the interests of the nation as a whole, not just the North and it cannot be achieved without this rail plan.”

Dear Prime Minister,

Reports about the Integrated Rail Plan in this weekend’s newspapers are concerning to all of us who represent the North of England. Leaks and pre-briefings like this are very damaging to business confidence, and the content of this briefing is particularly concerning for West Yorkshire.

Since becoming Prime Minister you have made several promises about transport in the North.

In your first major speech in Manchester in July 2019, when you first committed to levelling up the UK, you said:

“I want to be the Prime Minister who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did for Crossrail in London. And today I am going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route.” 

In February 2020, you told the House of Commons that it wasn’t a case of either HS2 or Northern Powerhouse Rail:

“both are needed and both will be built as quickly and cost effectively as possible”.

And just last month, you said at the Conservative Party Conference:

“we will do Northern Powerhouse Rail, we will link up the cities of the Midlands and the North”.

From what you have said, I know that you share our ambitions for a better-connected North, linking up our great towns and cities with a public transport system that tackles the climate emergency.

I hope, therefore, that the Integrated Rail Plan will set out how you intend to deliver HS2’s Eastern Leg in full, along with Northern Powerhouse Rail including a new line from Leeds, through a stop in central Bradford, to Manchester. This must be in addition to the existing commitment to upgrade and modernise the current TransPennine route.

The government has a choice to make. It can choose to unlock the potential of the North, or it can let us down once again, limiting your levelling up ambitions, before you’ve had a chance to finalise the Levelling Up White Paper.

I hope this government’s ambition goes beyond an upgrade of Victorian rail lines to deliver growth and combat carbon emissions. We need a railway fit for the 21st century, not a 20th century upgrade to 19th century infrastructure.

I am willing to work with you and your government to deliver a better-connected West Yorkshire. I would welcome early, private sight of the final Integrated Rail Plan before it is made public.

I will never stop making the case for the rail infrastructure that the North needs to level up, and I hope you will deliver on the promises that you have made.

Yours Sincerely

Tracy Brabin

Mayor of West Yorkshire