Rail in the North

Rail (UK) - - Contents - Paul Stephen As­sis­tant Fea­tures Edi­tor [email protected]­me­dia.co.uk @paul_rail

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling pledges to de­liver an im­proved rail sys­tem that “the North can be proud of”.

SEC­RE­TARY of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling has pledged to de­liver a vastly im­proved rail sys­tem that “the North can be proud of”, fol­low­ing decades of eco­nomic ne­glect.

Speak­ing in Manch­ester on Novem­ber 15, he apol­o­gised for the dis­rup­tion suf­fered by pas­sen­gers on the North­ern net­work fol­low­ing May’s timetable melt­down, while con­ced­ing that the Gov­ern­ment was “play­ing catch up” to im­prove per­for­mance and the stan­dard of ser­vice for pas­sen­gers.

He pointed to a sus­tained pack­age of trans­port in­vest­ment that (ac­cord­ing to the In­fra­struc­ture and Projects Au­thor­ity) will re­sult in cap­i­tal in­vest­ment per head for the North West, North East, York­shire and Hum­ber ris­ing to a higher level in the next three years than for Lon­don and the South East.

This in­cludes ex­ist­ing com­mit­ments to spend £3 bil­lion on the Trans-Pen­nine Route Up­grade to im­prove jour­ney times be­tween Manch­ester, Leeds and York, £337 mil­lion on a new fleet of Metro trains in the North East, and £3bn of north­ern road im­prove­ments.

Grayling said: “This is an ex­cit­ing time, and we have al­ready an­nounced the big­gest ever fund­ing pack­age for north­ern trans­port. Don’t let any­one claim that trans­port in this part of the world is un­der­funded.

“I know lots of peo­ple are still scep­ti­cal about the prospects for bet­ter trans­port, and I com­pletely get why. The worst of the sum­mer is be­hind us, but pas­sen­gers in the North are still en­dur­ing poor per­for­mance on many routes.

“That’s why the Gov­ern­ment has launched a fun­da­men­tal re­view of the in­dus­try to rec­om­mend sig­nif­i­cant re­forms, and we’re work­ing with fran­chises to en­sure pas­sen­gers are prop­erly com­pen­sated.

“But the big­ger pic­ture here is that we are play­ing catch-up. In 2010 we didn’t just in­herit an econ­omy on its knees, we also in­her­ited a trans­port net­work that had been in de­cline for decades - par­tic­u­larly in the North. What we’re do­ing now is mak­ing up for those decades of ne­glect.”

The Trans­port Sec­re­tary also re­it­er­ated the Gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for HS2 and North­ern Pow­er­house Rail (NPR), which he stressed were both needed in or­der to im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity not just on con­gested routes from north to south, but from east to west.

In Oc­to­ber 29’s bud­get an­nounce­ment, £37 mil­lion was al­lo­cated to de­velop the busi­ness case for NPR, while Grayling’s com­ments on HS2 will be wel­comed by sup­port­ers of the £56bn project, af­ter the Sun­day Tele­graph re­ported a quote from him on Novem­ber 3 say­ing that Phase 2b of the line “was not in the bag”.

Grayling said: “Our com­mit­ment to HS2, the full net­work to Manch­ester and Leeds, re­mains undi­min­ished. Rather than talk HS2 down, we want to see this en­thu­si­asm spread across the North.

“In fact, there are strong rea­sons why HS2 should ac­tu­ally pave the way for NPR, and why the case for NPR is bol­stered by HS2.

“The last time we built new rail links to the cen­tres of our great North­ern cities, Queen Vic­to­ria was still on the throne. We don’t get these op­por­tu­ni­ties of­ten and we need to take ad­van­tage of them while we can.

“This is a time of real op­por­tu­nity, so let’s be am­bi­tious for trans­port in the North. Let’s work to­gether to­wards a shared vi­sion for the fu­ture, and let’s build an en­dur­ing trans­port legacy that the North can be proud of.”

LES NIXON.

North­ern 170475 passes the for­mer sta­tion at Mas­bor­ough, in Rother­ham, on Oc­to­ber 20, on its way from re­fur­bish­ment at Crewe to Neville Hill fol­low­ing its trans­fer from ScotRail, as a Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press Class 185 passes with a Manch­ester Air­portCleethor­pes train. The sta­tion closed in Oc­to­ber 1988.

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