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DfT confirms Northern Powerhouse Rail business case delayed until 2019

The strategic outline business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), which was due to be submitted to the government by the end of this month, has been pushed back to the new year.

The delay was quietly revealed in a Parliamentary written question submitted by Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East and chair of the local government committee.

Betts had inquired about the planned timeframe for the completion of the northern line for services from Sheffield to the main HS2 line.

Responding, HS2 minister Nusrat Ghani said that the northern link is being considered as part of the NPR project.

Transport for the North (TfN) is currently working with partners across the region to develop the outline business case for the major infrastructure scheme, which will, amongst other things, take into consideration potential timescales for delivery.

But while Ghani accepted that this was an important milestone for the programme, she said the government would only be receiving advice from TfN in the new year.

Writing for RTM’s August/September edition, TfN’s NPR boss Tim Wood had said that his organisation would be submitting a robust and evidence-based case for NPR to the transport secretary by December.

This delay is not unique to NPR: the turmoil of the ongoing Brexit vote has pushed other important issues, such as the local government finance settlement, to the backburner.

It is also not unique in the rail industry, with Crossrail just yesterday announcing that it will be delayed by yet another year. Originally intended to launch this week, the London scheme is now expected to start running services by 2020.

Similarly, earlier this year HS2 announced that its Phase 2b bill would suffer a one-year setback – although its boss, Paul Griffiths, told RTM that the move was strategic and “essential” to ensure the benefits of NPR can play a role in the final legislation.

Delays on both projects are even said to be linked, with the Construction and Products Association warning that Crossrail’s misstep may push HS2 off track by exacerbating pressures.

(Top image: Owen Humphreys, PA Wire)


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