Back On Track: Open letter to the Chancellor

The Yorkshire Post is backing electrification of the TransPennine rail route
The Yorkshire Post is backing electrification of the TransPennine rail route
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Business leaders across the region have backed The Yorkshire Post’s Back On Track campaign.

The campaign launched today with nearly 70 organisations signing an open letter urging Chancellor George Osborne to commit to rail investment in the North.

Read the letter and its signatories in full:

July 16 2015

Dear Chancellor,

As Sir Peter Hendy takes up his duties as Network Rail chairman today and begins a  review of its engineering programme, The Yorkshire Post challenges you - and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin - to reinstate plans to electrify major railway lines serving this region at the earliest opportunity.

The economic case for the electrification of the TransPennine Express linking Hull and Leeds with Manchester, and also Midland Mainline from Sheffield to London, is already well proven - and both you, and the Prime Minister, highlighted the importance of the upgrade on many campaign visits to Yorkshire prior to the May 7 election.

A separate review, published in early March, also identified improvements to the Calder Valley route and lines linking Leeds, Harrogate and York as a national priority. It was headed by Harrogate MP Andrew Jones, now a transport minister.

As you will be aware from the public reaction to the ‘pause’ announced by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin on June 25, 2015, commuters - and the business community - feel betrayed. Rightly or wrongly, they have little confidence that these schemes will be reinstated. Concerns include these three questions:

Does the Government remain committed to strengthening the economy in the North of England?  

Does the Government still believe that investment in transport infrastructure is key to rebalancing the UK economy and improving connectivity within and between city regions?

Does the ‘pause’ announced by Mr McLoughlin mean that previously announced schemes could in fact, be scrapped?

Given the need for additional capacity in peak-times, and the importance of improving the reliability, reducing journey times and enhancing the quality of rail services we urge you to recognise the compelling case for rail improvements across Yorkshire.

For too long, the Yorkshire economy has underperformed because of the disproportionate amount of public money allocated to major infrastructure projects in London, and therefore the gap in productivity and economic performance remains.

As such, it will be extremely regrettable if schemes like Crossrail 2 in the capital are given preference over infrastructure schemes in this region which are critical to this region’s future prospects and can help rebalance the economy and deliver benefits for the whole country.

Without a 21st century railway, Yorkshire will be unable to fulfil its own potential as an economic powerhouse in the ‘One Nation’ Britain envisaged by both yourself and the Prime Minister.


The Yorkshire Post and the undersigned

Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce - Andrew Denniff, chief executive

Bradford Chamber of Commerce - Andy Caton, president

Doncaster Chamber of Commerce - Dan Fell, chief executive

Federation of Small Businesses, North Yorkshire - Simon Williams, chairman

Federation of Small Businesses, South and East Yorkshire - Gordon Millward, chairman

Federation of Small Businesses, West Yorkshire - Neil Kendall, chairman

Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce - Brian Dunsby, chief executive

Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping - Dr Ian Kelly, chief executive

Institute of Directors, Yorkshire - Jonathan Oxley, chairman

Leeds Chamber of Commerce - Gerald Jennings, president

Leeds Property Forum - Andrew Latchmore, chairman

Leeds Advanced Manufacturing UTC - Graham Cooper, trustee

Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce - Martin Hathaway, chief executive

Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership - James Newman, chairman

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce - Andrew Lindsay, chairman

York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce - Suzanne Burnett, president

Airedale International Air Conditioning - Mark Viner, commercial director (manufacturing)

Ajaz Ahmed - entrepreneur

Andrew Cope - executive chairman of FMG

BDO - Terry Jones, head of Yorkshire (professional services)

Beaumont Legal - Nick Masheder, managing partner (legal)

Brewster Bye Architects - Mark Henderson, director (architecture, construction and engineering)

Buy It Direct - Nick Glynne, managing director (retail)

BW Legal - Sean Barton, chief executive (legal)

Campfire PR - Nathan Lane, director (media)

Clarion - Roger Hutton, managing partner (legal)

Cicada Communications (media)

DAC Beachcroft - Virginia Clegg, partner (legal)

Dacre, Son & Hartley - Patrick J McCutcheon, head of residential sales (property)

Doncaster Sheffield Airport - Stephen Gill, managing director (transport)

Endless (private equity investors)

Eris FX - Helen Scott, managing director (financial services)

Eversheds - Paul Cotton, Leeds senior partner (legal)

Ewe Agency - Steve Moncrieff, director of strategy (digital/creative)

Finn Communications (media)

Fore Consulting - Nigel Foster, director (planning)

Fox Communications - Al Fox, director (media)

Gateley - Nick Emmerson, partner (legal)

GLP Group - André Scruton, managing director (financial services)

Gordons - John Holden, senior partner (legal)

Grant Thornton - Andy Wood, lead partner in Leeds (professional services)

Hargreave Hale - Thomas Holliday, branch manager (stockbroker)

Hatch PR - Jason Madeley, managing director (media)

HCM Group - Jason Adlam, group chief executive (construction)

Hebe Media - Lee Hicken, director (media)

Herd - Amy De-Balsi, owner (digital)

Irwin Mitchell - Andrew Tucker, chief executive (legal)

James Lambert OBE - entrepreneur

Johnston Press - Helen Oldham, managing director, Johnston Press Yorkshire and Scotsman Publications (media)

Just Trays - Paul Crossley, managing director (manufacturing)

Key Capital Partners - Peter Armitage, partner (private equity)

Lake Legal - Lyn Ayrton, managing partner (legal)

Leeds Bradford Airport (transport)

Leeds College of Building - Ian Billyard, principal (education)

Media Yorkshire - Stuart Clarke, director (digital/creative)

Missold2U - Joseph Battle, founder (claims management)

N Brown - Ben Bisco, head of digital (retail)

One Family - Karl Elliot, marketing director (financial services)

ResearchBods - Robin Hilton, director (commercial research)

Reward Finance Group - Dave Jones, managing director (alternative finance provider)

Shulmans - Andrew Latchmore, partner (legal)

StickyEyes - Craig Chalmers, chief executive (digital/creative)

The Test People - Gav Winter, managing director (engineering)

Tina Boden - micro-business campaigner and adviser

Town Centre Securities - Richard Lewis, property director (property)

Twisted Automotive - Alex Duckett, operations director (automotive)

WYG - Paul Hamer, chief executive (architecture, construction and engineering)

Yorkshire Building Society (financial services)

Yorkshire Design Group - Peter Connolly, managing director (property/regeneration)