The Guardian

Northern politician­s seek talks on new rail plan

- Mark Brown North of England correspond­ent

Mayors and council leaders in northern England have refused to give up on a new high-speed east-west rail line, calling for talks with the government to discuss alternativ­e funding.

A meeting of politician­s on the board of Transport for the North, the statutory body created to advise the government on the region’s transport needs, was held yesterday in Leeds. They discussed the government’s new integrated rail plan, which has been condemned as a “betrayal” of the north.

One of the biggest omissions is a scaling back of the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, including the axing of a new high-speed line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford.

Andy Burnham, the metro mayor of Greater Manchester, said to admit defeat would be “to fail generation­s to come”.

He proposed a motion, agreed unanimousl­y by Labour and Conservati­ve members, to approach the government asking for a process of mediation. “I didn’t hear any minister last week say anything other than cost was the reason why we could not have a new line via Bradford. If that is the case let us sit down with ministers and talk about how we bridge that gap,” he said.

Bradford is one of the biggest losers from last week’s rail announceme­nt. Burnham said people in the city were “getting pretty much nothing. Third class … forgotten.”

Labour mayors and council leaders took turns to express their anger at the government’s rail plan. Tracy Brabin, the mayor of West Yorkshire, called it a “betrayal of levelling up” that was not fair, transparen­t or clear.

Jamie Driscoll, the north of Tyne mayor, said the area was “getting nothing” from the government’s plan. “I’m getting so hacked off that I’m thinking the best thing we can do is get all of this money devolved to the north and let us decide how to spend it,” he said.

Daren Hale, the leader of Hull city council, said the plan was “almost a Beeching moment” that in effect removed Hull “from the rail map of the UK”.

‘Let’s meet ministers and talk about how we bridge that gap’

Andy Burnham Greater Manchester mayor

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