‘Second-class’ rail investment for the north, as government publishes IRP


Yesterday the government published its much-anticipated Integrated Rail Plan and confirmed that the eastern leg of HS2 will no longer go all the way to Leeds and would instead stop in the East Midlands.

The promised new line Manchester-Leeds on NPR is being downgraded to upgrades on the Transpennine route alongside a new line from Warrington through Manchester to Marsden, West Yorkshire.

It means Bradford – recently named as having the worst rail connections of any major UK city – misses out altogether.

Plans to reopen the Leamside Line , which runs between Gateshead and Ferryhill in County Durham, have been shelved, in a huge blow for the North East.

New vs. upgraded lines in the government’s Integrated Rail Plan. Source: Department for Transport

NPP compared the Integrated Rail Plan with the investment promised through the full delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The government is investing an estimated £36bn less than was originally promised – and most of those cuts are in the north.

While £8.3bn has already been spent on work between London and Birmingham, investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail has been cut by £24.9bn. Meanwhile the original investment promised on the Eastern Leg has been more than halved, a cut of £14.2bn.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership Director Henri Murison said: “The Integrated Rail Plan is a huge moment for the North, and the announcement of the new line from Warrington through Manchester to Marsden, as well as the confirmation of HS2 in the west coming to Manchester and Manchester Airport, is welcome.

“However, the lack of a full new line across the Pennines will dramatically reduce the capacity and potential for rapid economic growth, in particular in the cities of Leeds and Bradford. What Northern leaders had proposed was an economically transformational vision. What we have is, as ever, second class.

“The complete failure to deliver the Eastern leg of HS2 in the North is a major blow – another review is not what the North has consistently and coherently called for. We will continue to fight for HS2 in the North, which needs to be a phased project starting with a brand new line from Leeds to Clayton, alongside the immediate electrification of the conventional line between Leeds and Sheffield.

“In addition, the lack of commitment to the Leamside Line means the benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail to the North East are significantly constrained – this must be delivered to ensure the whole of the North benefits from rail investment”.

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