Broken promises on rail infrastructure
Broken promises on rail infrastructure

Northern Powerhouse Rail, Crossrail for the North or HS3 as it is sometimes called has been re-announced or recommitted to in over 60 Government press releases over the last seven years yet there has been zero spades in the ground.

 And the tender for the Midland Mainline electrification to Sheffield won’t even go out until September 2022, ten years after it was first committed to by the Conservatives.

I’ve urged the government to use this budget to finally deliver on these broken promises to the people of Yorkshire.

A decade of broken promises on the electrification of the mainline from Sheffield to London show this Conservative Government’s word simply cannot be trusted.

If ministers were serious about ensuring towns and cities of the north are better connected, they’d finally use this budget to deliver HS2 to Sheffield, Northern powerhouse rail and the electrification of the Midland Main Line. These projects are critical to addressing the climate crisis and transforming the economy of South Yorkshire – if Ministers go back on their word, communities will feel rightly betrayed.

Electrification of the Midland Mainline:

Announced: July 2012

The Coalition Government first announced plans to complete electrification of the Midland Main Line as part of a package of measures on 16 July 2012 (Press Release – Investing in rail, investing in jobs and growth), which would include “an £800 million electrification and upgrade from Sheffield – through Nottingham, Derby and Leicester – to Bedford, completing the full electrification of the Midland Main Line out of London St Pancras.

According to latest reports, the project is not due out to tender until September 2022, ten years after the initial announcement:

Northern Powerhouse Rail:

Abridged timeline of Northern Powerhouse Rail

June 2014 – in a Speech given in Manchester then Chancellor George Osborne proposed a new high speed link between Leeds and Manchester.

August 2014 – An alliance of 6 city councils unveiled the first route plan for a new trans-Pennine high speed rail link, backed on the day by Osborne.

March 2015 – DfT publishes plans for transport infrastructure in the North of England including plans for a new line linking Liverpool to Hull

General Election 2015 – the Tory Manifesto states that they would ‘develop High Speed 3 to join up the North’

March 2016 – At the Budget 2016, Osborne backs the NIC’s report calling for High Speed North. The report noted that ‘it takes longer to get from Liverpool to Hull by Train than to travel twice the distance from London to Paris.’

General Election 2017 – the Tory Manifesto states ‘We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow airport’

October 2017 – Then Chancellor Philip Hammond, recommits to Northern Powerhouse Rail (as it then came to be more regularly called) and allocated £300m to future-poof junctions between Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.

March 2019 – a new Government commission is set up to plan a new £6bn city centre station in Liverpool to accommodate HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail

July 2019 – Boris Johnson pledges to fund the Leeds to Manchester section as proposed by Transport for the North, as a first stage.

September 2019 – the Government rows back on committing to the exact route plan.

General Election 2019 – The Tory Manifesto states ‘now is the time to invest in Northern Powerhouse Rail’

February 2020 – Andrew Stephenson is named the ‘Northern powerhouse Rail and HS2 Minister’ split the role out from the Rail Minister and given the task to ‘keep a firm grip on these vital projects’

October 2020 – Grant Shapps recommits to Northern Powerhouse Rail in his speech to the Great Northern Conference.

2021 – The Government has yet to approve route plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail

Labour has consistently called for Northern Powerhouse Rail to be built. Jim McMahon warned in 2017 that the Government were failure on their commitment to get  line built

“the promise (of a new rail line) was wrapped-in George Osborne’s vision for a “northern powerhouse” but, as with that concept, it is being allowed to slowly slide from view”

Jim McMahon, 27 July 2017,

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