The Transport for the North board meeting has taken place today, as it formulates its response to the Network North announcement and how it will fit into its strategic transport plan.
Under the plan, which was initially introduced after the scrapping of Phase 2 of HS2 will see Northern Powerhouse Rail revived, with a £3 billion plan to electrify and improve the line between Hull and Leeds, alongside the upgrading and electrification of the line between Sheffield and Leeds and the electrification of the Hope Valley Line between Sheffield and Manchester.
The Department for Transport also recently confirmed it was to prioritise the electrification of the North Wales line in a £1 billion investment.
This is alongside a £2 billion investment in a new station at Bradford, which it is hoped will double capacity and connect Bradford to Huddersfield and Manchester. Funds have also been allocated to build a fully-funded metro system in West Yorkshire.
The board meeting which took place in Manchester aimed to formulate a response and establish a working plan for how to integrate the Network North plans into the regions long-term thinking.
Questions were raised from board members on the long-term funding for Network North, and specifically the rail projects promised. However, Emma Ward, director general of roads and places for the Department for Transport said: “It’s worth consideration on how we work together to grasp the opportunity for the North. Giving long-term funding certainty to projects like these, I think the department has made huge strides in this area, and Network North builds on that.”
However, Mayor for West Yorkshire, Tracey Brabin, who was also in attendance at the meeting said that the Network North plans fell short of what was needed.
Commenting, Mayor Brabin said: “The challenge is always, Manchester and Leeds and connecting them both. Across east to west, 46% of journeys are cancelled and Network North, sadly I don’t think addresses that need.”
Brabin also raised the capacity issues at stations, arguing that both Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds stations, to accommodate for higher speed trains, would need extending or even the construction of a new station in Leeds.
Transport for the North chair, Martin Tugwell did ask for more clarity from the government and more co-operation would be needed to ensure that Network North was to realise its potential.
The strategic transport plan was formulated this year and includes the regions plans for transport provision up to 2050. It is due to be presented to the government next year.
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