Faster train journeys are being delivered up to 10 years ahead of schedule, the government has insisted on canceling important plans in the face of anger over an anticipated decision.
The Department of Transport (DfT) announced that its Integrated Railroad Plan (IRP) includes £ 96 billion in investments in the Midlands and the north.
The plan, released today (Thursday), is set to confirm that the eastern section of HS2 between the East Midlands and Leeds will be scrapped, saving tens of billions of pounds.
Also frustrating is that improvements to the east-west links in the north, known as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), are likely to involve upgrading existing infrastructure rather than building a new line between Manchester and Leeds.
However, the DfT insisted that it will “remodel” travel in and between the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Northwest, with the benefits being provided “up to 10 years earlier”.
A statement said that “the full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail programs as originally proposed would not become operational until the early to mid-2040s”.
One of the goals of the IRP was to increase capacity and offer more frequent services, “in a way that is good value for money for the taxpayer,” according to the department.
“From London and across the Pennines, the IRP is offering travel times similar or faster to original HS2 and Leeds-Manchester proposals, while doubling or tripling capacity and allowing passengers and consumers to benefit more quickly from tangible changes. ”
Around £ 360 million will be allocated to the introduction of London-style contactless ticketing on S-Bahn networks. This will include price caps built into local buses and trams.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “If we are to see a leveling in action now, we must quickly transform the services that matter most to the people.
“This is why the Integrated Railroad Plan will be the largest transport investment program in a century and create meaningful transport connections for more passengers across the country more quickly – with both high-speed travel and better local transport connections, it will not ensure a city.”
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said: “During the pandemic we stood by our railroad and invested billions to keep the country moving and we are about to launch a £ 96 billion investment program that will turn a Victorian network into a modern one Will transform land.
“The integrated rail map is designed to benefit everyone, much sooner than previous rail map plans that were made a decade ago and no longer fit the way we travel today.
“Our plan will provide a network that is suitable for current and future generations – a network that works for every community and passenger across the UK.”
However, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said although he has not yet seen details of the revised plans, he and “many concerned people in the north of England” are concerned that they will be flown in the face of government promises to level the land be.
On ITV’s Peston, Mr Burnham said: “We believed that we were promised a new line between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford.
“That’s what the north of England thinks it needs, and that’s the point, isn’t it – if you want to level up this part of the world, if you want to level up the north of England with, especially in the south east of England, you have to reach its full potential, and that means proposing your best solution, not a cheap one.
“So we’ll wait to see the details, but I think there are a lot of concerned people all over the north of England tonight.”
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, the Tory MP for Newark in Nottinghamshire, agreed, telling the program, “I think if NPR doesn’t move forward there will be legitimate disappointment because I think this will be a wrong one in the long run Economy for the Midlands and the North together. “
Naz Shah, Labor MP for Bradford West, has accused Mr Johnson of “pulling the whole damn rug from under our feet and tearing up the floor behind him”.
Railroad engineer and writer Gareth Dennis told the PA news agency that the scrapping of part of the eastern section of HS2 was “bleak” and “the result of the Treasury – which doesn’t understand railways or transportation – has way too much power.”
He said the “main benefit” of HS2 is the ability to move long-distance trains to new, separate high-speed lines, which gives more space to stop services on existing lines.
The government-commissioned Oakervee Review warned in 2018 that the final bill for the entire Y-shaped network of HS2 could reach £ 106 billion.
Phase 1 will run between London and Birmingham and Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe.
Phase 2b was intended to extend the route between Crewe and Manchester and between Birmingham and Leeds, although the later route is expected to be shortened.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of the Aslef Train Drivers Union, accused the government of using “smoke and mirrors” while throwing NPR “in the trash can”.
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