Tracy Brabin warns Government must think again on Yorkshire rail plans - or need new proposals in a decade

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin has said the Government must alter its Integrated Rail Plan - or face having to draw up revised proposals in a decade.

By Chris Burn
Thursday, 25th November 2021, 5:45 am
Tracy Brabin outside Leeds railway station with fellow Transport for the North board members.
Tracy Brabin outside Leeds railway station with fellow Transport for the North board members.

Ms Brabin said the current plan - which does not deliver a full new high-speed line between Leeds and Manchester via Bradford and has axed the Eastern leg of HS2 up to Leeds - "is a betrayal of levelling up for West Yorkshire".

She told a meeting of the Transport for the North board in her opinion the IRP "is not integrated and it is not a plan".

"I would just like to reiterate how angry the people of West Yorkshire were when this was announced and how betrayed the people of Bradford feel in particular.

Tracy Brabin speaking during the Transport for the North board meeting.

"Government need to think again. We have proposed a free vote in Parliament [on the IRP] and I urge the 54 MPs across Yorkshire to stand together to make the case that this isn't good enough."

She said while the negative reaction to the Integrated Rail Plan was being framed nationally as part of a "bad week" for Boris Johnson, the implications for West Yorkshire would be far more long-lasting.

"This is not a bad week for the people of West Yorkshire, this is a bad two decades.

“I’m saying to Government this is not acceptable. We won’t roll over and accept this.”

Northern leaders are calling on the Government to reopen talks about building the full Northern Powerhouse Rail route, which they have suggested could be funded through taxing landowners on the proposed route in a similar manner that is done in places like Hong Kong.

Ms Brabin said: "This is an opportunity to make it better and make sure we get value for money.

"If we do it this way, we are going to have to do it all again in a decade's time."

But Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson told Parliament yesterday the Government has no intention of doing a U-turn on its current proposals.

He was responding to a question about whether a change of policy on Northern Powerhouse Rail was possible from Bradford West MP Naz Shah.

She said: "Bradford is angry, the whole city is angry, my constituents are angry - 530,000 people have been failed."

Mr Stephenson replied: "We do not intend to U-turn, for all the reasons set out in the Integrated Rail Plan. To spend billions of pounds investing in the existing rail route from Manchester to Leeds, and then to spend £18bn more building a brand new line just simply did not make economic sense.

"We will reduce the journey times from Bradford into Leeds from the current about 20 minutes down to 11 minutes, and we will continue to work with regional stakeholders to deliver benefits."

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