Joined-up thinking needed to improve North’s railways: The Yorkshire Post says

One silver lining of the terrible coronavirus crisis has been the way it has given people an opportunity to reflect on the way their personal and professional lives are ordered and think of the permanent improvements which will hopefully come out of this temporary situation.

There are concerns plans for railway investment in the North of England are too fragmented. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The same opportunity 
to press the ‘reset’ button and change course for the better can hopefully apply to those in charge of major public projects such as much-needed rail improvements in the North of England.

As Transport for the North’s submission to the National Infrastructure Commission – the body supporting the Government in developing an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands – makes clear, current plans for HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and Transpennine route upgrades have interconnected aims but fragmented delivery.

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It points out that with the different programmes currently being developed in isolation to each other, the HS2 routes into Leeds and Manchester have been designed with the terminating stations in mind – a decision presenting “significant operational challenges” for the other two projects which are focused more on connecting services across the North rather than a quicker route to London. They have also raised concerns that local services vital for getting people to and from work in Yorkshire could lose out on capacity as a result of focus on the big ticket projects.

With the demand for rail services expected to grow to four times its current level in the next 30 years, piecemeal improvements need to be replaced with a united vision for the region’s railways.

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James Mitchinson