Britain’s Victorian-era rail network is in desperate need of investment, says Leeds Chamber president

BRITAIN’s Victorian-era rail network is in desperate need of investment, the president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce told a major business event.

Amanda Beresford Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Amanda Beresford, who is a partner at the Leeds law firm, Shulmans, made the comments during the Leeds Chamber Annual Dinner which was held at the Queens Hotel in Leeds.

In her speech, Ms Beresford called for the North to get a fairer deal from central Government

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She said: “I read in the London headquartered newspapers that the North only needs Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“That is not correct and demonstrates a fatal misunderstanding of both HS2 and NPR and their inter-relationship.

“The North and the UK needs both HS2 and NPR. We need to press ahead with both schemes to deliver the unprecedented economic and social benefits that will accrue. Indeed, proposals for NPR and HS2 should be considered as one.

“Improved economic performance is rightly one of the key benefits that HS2 will bring but there is also a range of social and environmental improvements that it will deliver, and which should not be overlooked.”

These included providing a low carbon travel alternative to the car or planes and taking cars and lorries off the roads because of the additional space created on the network, she said.

Ms Beresford added: “I was heartened to read that amendments are proposed to the way in which the ‘Green Book’ approach to investment is currently undertaken.

“The North has for too long suffered from an outdated funding methodology which to date favours investment in London and the South East.

“The transformation which great connectivity brings should not be overlooked; it is no coincidence that the great Victorian cities grew as a result of investment in canals, rail and road.”

Ms Beresford added: “In his electoral campaign the Prime Minister called for ‘an end to delay and dither’, a view we support very strongly. Our Victorian-era railway network has served the country well but is now desperately in need of investment and improvement.

“We have the opportunity to make a difference not only for today but for generations to come.”

Other speakers at the dinner included Sinead Rocks of Channel 4 and the comedian Jo Caulfield.