Labour will today (Wednesday 8th December) force a vote in the House of Commons demanding Boris Johnson reverses the North’s rail betrayal.
Northern Powerhouse Rail was committed to more than 60 times by successive Tory Governments, and was in three consecutive Conservative Party manifestos but last month was downgraded and the Eastern Leg of HS2 scrapped.
The scrapping of the HS2 Eastern Leg will have a devastating effect on connectivity and connection times.
And by downgrading Northern Powerhouse Rail, Ministers have also broken their promise to upgrade vital transport infrastructure in full in the North:
- Shelved the Leamside line serving Tyne and Wear.
- They have scrapped a new high-speed line from Leeds to Manchester with a stop in central Bradford.
- They’ve have shelved the planned electrification from Selby to Hull. It will leave millions of people paying the price for broken Tory promises.
Labour will today urge Conservative MPs to stand up for Northern communities, back the opposition motion, and send a strong message that Boris Johnson’s must deliver on his promises.
Commenting, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Louise Haigh MP said:
“Northern communities are, once again, paying the price for broken Tory promises on rail.”
“This great rail betrayal will hit millions of people, and leave the north in the slow lane for decades to come.
“Promises made must be kept, and today Labour will stand up for our communities and demand they deliver the northern rail investment promised by the Prime Minister.”
Labour will use an opposition day debate to demand the Prime Minister reverses his rail betrayal.
Labour’s will urge the Prime Minister to deliver, in full, the northern rail infrastructure that was promised to communities across the North.
- Abridged timeline of Northern Powerhouse Rail promises by the Conservative Government.
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-proof 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.
November 2021 – The Government has cancelled 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 failing 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”
Quotes promising HS2 from the Conservatives last 4 Manifestos:
2010: “A Conservative government will begin work immediately to create a high-speed rail line connecting London and Heathrow with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This is the first step towards achieving our vision of creating a national high speed rail network to join up major cities across England, Scotland and Wales. Stage two will deliver two new lines bringing the North East, Scotland and Wales into the high-speed rail network.”
2015: “In addition to rolling out our national high-speed rail network, with High Speed 2 and High Speed 3, we will complete the construction of the new east-west Crossrail across Greater London, and push forward with plans for Crossrail 2, a new rail route running through London and connecting Surrey and Hertfordshire”.
2017: “We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport – and we will ensure that these great projects do as much as possible to develop the skills and careers of British workers.”
2019: “HS2 is a great ambition, but will now cost at least £81 billion and will not reach Leeds or Manchester until as late as 2040. We will consider the findings of the Oakervee review into costs and timings and work with leaders of the Midlands and the North to decide the optimal outcome.”
Following the Oakervee review:Boris Johnson said on 11th February 2020 (the day the review as published)
“The cabinet has given high-speed rail the green signal. We are going to get this done.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has repeated committed to building the HS2:
“I would say in general though that the benefits of HS2 will be felt by the whole United Kingdom. That means, potentially, ultimately, a journey from London to Edinburgh in three hours or so. I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that levelling up and connectivity throughout the Union.” Grant Shapps, 22 October 2021.