Why the North will never forget broken promises over Great Rail Betrayal - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

It’s a wishy washy phrase that we’ve heard time and time again since the General Election two years.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 4:45 am
The north of England really was short-changed in what could have been a game-changing announcement to transform inadequate travel links from Leeds and beyond. Pic: James Hardisty

I’ve lost count of the number of times the Government’s PR machine has rolled out the phrase ‘levelling up’ since the landslide victory for the Conservative Party in 2019.

In his victory speech Boris Johnson took to the lectern outside Downing Street and promised to not only unite but level up the country.

In a nod to swathes of the country that turned from red to blue - especially in the north of England - was this really going to be a chance to finally narrow the gap between us and them in the South?

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Well the Government’s long-awaited Integrated Rail Plan could have been the perfect opportunity to show its commitment to that power catchphrase that has dominated so many press briefings in the months that have followed.

But instead the north of England really was short-changed in what could have been a game-changing announcement to transform inadequate travel links from Leeds and beyond.

The over-promised HS2 line isn’t going to make it as far as Leeds.

However, fear not another £100m may be spent on an investigation to determine whether HS2 can run to our city.

I’m sure many of you can think of other things to spend that money on in the current climate - especially if the study reaches the same conclusions formed by Whitehall chiefs sitting miles away from the transport headaches many of us face on a daily basis.

It also brings little comfort to those who were living on the route then forced to leave their homes to make way for work to begin.

Meanwhile, the Northern Powerhouse Rail plans were hugely watered down.

Realistically it will only involve a new £17bn high-speed line between Warrington and Marsden, which is two miles inside the Yorkshire border.

It does very little to look at how we can reduce horrendous train journeys from Leeds to neighbouring Bradford and beyond the Pennines to Manchester.

And then we are thrown a sweetener here in West Yorkshire that the Government is set to fully support a mass transit scheme. Again, where have we heard that before?

I’m sure many of you will remember the repeated failed attempts to look at mass transit here in Leeds - and even with Government backing at first these plans have soon hit the buffers time and time again.

Our poor transport networks are continuing to let our city down and we need help fast.

Our city - and other great cities in the north - can’t afford to be waiting any longer for improvements as the gap between us and the South continues to widen.

This runs deeper than train lines. Ultimately, this is about the broken promises made to those living in cities like Leeds.

Mr Johnson, you had the chance to show your commitment to the north of England but you’ve blown it.

The North will never forget this.

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