Latest Rail News

27.02.20

High-speed rail promised for the North by HS2 Minister

At the beginning of February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that HS2 will go ahead and the London-Birmingham phase will commence immediately.

The PM also confirmed the second phase of HS2, the route to Manchester and Leeds would be built, meaning parts of Northern Powerhouse Rail could be prioritised. He also announced he would appoint a HS2 minister, whose full-time job would be to manage the project.

That role was awarded to Manchester born Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and he gave his first speech this morning (Feb 27th) since being appointed.

Mr. Stephenson said: “It was a huge honour last week to be given responsibility for HS2 and for Northern Powerhouse Rail in this new government. Like so many other northerners, I’ve been frustrated over the years as all the decisions seem to be taken away by civil servants and ministers in London, and we’ve had so little say on the decisions that affect us directly. But thankfully, that is now changing.”

READ MORE: Government gives the green light for HS2

“We’ve established Transport for the North. And through our Transforming Cities Fund, we’re delivering more than £1 billion to Metro Mayors over the next five years.”

The Pendle MP spoke about how the government has stepped in to amend northern rail services, to try and reinstate reliability and rebuild passenger trust.

He said: “…to really address overcrowding on the network, and provide the connections required to stimulate renewal across the North, we need to build new capacity. New rail links North to South, and East to West. That’s why we’re going ahead with both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“The critics who say that HS2 will only benefit London are simply wrong. They ignore the voices in towns and cities across the North. But that also means we have to have realistic, pragmatic and hard-nosed management of the costs, and a determination to unleash benefits that will revitalise the North. I’ve been a long-term supporter of HS2.

“We must get this project right. In terms of next steps, we will be bringing forward legislation for the high-speed line into Manchester as soon as practical. But before those designs are finalised, we’re going to be presenting one Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands.

READ MORE: HS2’s latest designs for Old Oak Common Station revealed

“The plan will examine how HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail can best work together, alongside wider investment in Transport for the North and the Midlands. To make sure people see the benefits of better services as quickly as possible."

He closed his speech by promising: “I am personally committed to ensuring the North and Midlands are fully engaged and consulted throughout the Integrated Rail Plan process. To be able to give something back to the place where I grew up is a huge honour. Something that will shape the growth of the North, not just for decades, but for generations to come.

“It’s time to repay the trust of northern voters. To show communities here that they’ve not been left behind. And use the railway to deliver a new Northern Powerhouse.”

Image: Geoff Caddick/PA Archive/PA Images

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