The Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones is calling for the government to prioritise investment in existing rail infrastructure and improved regional and local transport links to back up its claims of wanting to ‘level up’ the UK.
Last week, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson pledged to “invest massively in Northern Powerhouse Rail, in railways in the North and across the entire country”.
Ms Ros has now written to Mr Johnson and the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps in advance of the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan for the Midlands and the North (IRPMN).
She is urging investment to be focused on local and regional connectivity and on the existing network, including the region’s East Coast Main Line and stations.
Commenting, Ms Ros said: “We need the government to act now to create the rail infrastructure that truly supports jobs and growth and helps ‘level up’ the country.
“HS2 continues to be a big talking point and my position has not changed, we strongly oppose the current route for the Phase 2b Eastern Leg (M18 route). Compared to the original route it would limit the economic benefits for Doncaster and South Yorkshire and the future growth of our regional and local rail services. As we all know, it would have a catastrophic impact on our communities and potentially the environment.
“Quite simply, it’s not a solution for the urgent issues we face in Doncaster and South Yorkshire.
“There is still a cloud of uncertainty around HS2. This is unhelpful for people who will be affected and for Doncaster and our other towns and cities who face the possibility of falling further behind.
“What we really need is investment now. The government must support regional projects that can be on the ground quickly and deliver real benefits for our residents, businesses and the economy. It’s unimaginable to think we may have to wait 20 years for passengers to see improvements in South Yorkshire and the North. That cannot happen.
“Rail priority should be about improving regional and local connections by delivering urgent schemes like the tram-train extension to Doncaster and a new rail connection to Doncaster Sheffield Airport. These can be built and open in about five years and will see South Yorkshire gain much needed new jobs and economic growth.
“We also need the government to urgently invest in the existing rail network to fund vital upgrades to the East Coast Main Line, local and regional railway lines and at railway stations across Doncaster. This will improve the reliability and capacity of services.
”The government must fulfil its promises. Invest and deliver in schemes which will benefit us now and not the distant future.”