Northern Powerhouse Rail: New dawn fades


The new transport secretary has pushed back against pledges by former prime minister Liz Truss that Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) would be delivered ‘in full’ but has said the Government remains ‘committed’ to HS2.

In the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, published last year, the Government opted for a cut-down version of the trans-pennine rail project, priced at £17bn, as opposed to the plans costing £43bn put forward by sub-national transport body Transport for the North.

However, during her campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party, Liz Truss said she was ‘committed to building Northern Powerhouse Rail in full’. Last month Ms Truss was asked if this meant ‘a full new line all the way from Liverpool to Hull with a stop in Bradford?’. She replied: ‘It does.’

Appearing on Sky News on Wednesday morning, transport secretary Mark Harper (pictured) was asked whether he would be ‘upholding what Liz Truss promised’.

He replied: ‘I think it's fair to say [regarding] things that the former prime minister said, Rishi Sunak made it clear when he became prime minister, that for all the best motives, a number of mistakes were made and he was elected as prime minister in part to fix them.

‘So we’re going back to our 2019 manifesto, looking at the commitments we made. We have got a commitment to make sure we can get high-speed trains to Leeds and what we’re doing in my department, and what I’ve been briefed on, is we’re looking at all of the options that are available to do that.

‘I will be looking at all of the options to do that in light of the decisions we take in the Autumn Statement and then we'll be setting our plans in due course.’

He added: ‘We’re very committed to delivering what was in the Integrated Rail Plan, and there are a number of options for how we get high speed services to Leeds.’

Referring to ‘various stories that popped up at the weekend’, Mr Harper also said that ‘the Government remains committed to building High Speed 2, on time and within budget’.

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