North 'could see second-best rail for 200 years'


The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) could leave train services in the North of England behind other regions for two centuries, Manchester’s metro mayor has told MPs.

The IRP, which was finally published in November, largely scrapped the Eastern Leg of HS2 and scaled back plans for cross-Pennine rail links under the Northern Powerhouse Rail brand.

Mr Burnham adopts the classic Manchester look

Giving evidence on Wednesday to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the IRP, Andy Burnham was asked by committee chair Huw Merriman whether the plan was ‘a good deal for the people and businesses in Manchester’.

Mr Burnham said it was important to take ‘a long, detailed look at what is being proposed’.

He said: ‘These are once-in-200-years decisions for the country, and particularly for the North of England. And if we get second best, then the North of England will get second best for 200 years or more and that’s why the importance of this can’t be overstated.’

He added: ‘I need to recognise that [Greater] Manchester does proportionately better out of the Integrated Rail Plan than other parts of the country, particularly the eastern half of the country with the loss of the Eastern Leg of HS2, and the concerns from colleagues in West Yorkshire around connectivity from Leeds to Sheffield and Bradford.

‘We do better…but better is not what you should settle for, if you like, in terms of the full ambition, unlocking the full potential of the North. We don’t get the connectivity to Bradford, and that’s a critical neighbour city for us, nor the full benefits of the faster connectivity to Leeds that we’ve been promised.

‘So, while there are clearly significant benefits for us, I don’t believe this plan is as good as it could be and I don’t believe we will unlock the full economic transformation of the North of England.’

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