As Grant Shapps writes in today’s newspaper: “Together with an improved West Coast line and HS2, we will have three world-class, North-South rail corridors spanning the nation.”
Yet, while the Transport Secretary says these are the type of links “that the North’s economy needs to compete and thrive”, it is ominous that he chose not to elaborate on the status of east-west connections.
These matter just as much if this region, home to 15 million people, is to become an economic powerhouse, but Government documents now point to a serious downgrading of plans to build a new high-speed line between Leeds and Manchester via Bradford.
As such, it is paramount that Mr Shapps provides a public explanation of the Government’s latest intentions – this, scheme, after all, is the central promise that Boris Johnson made to the North when campaigning for the Tory leadership two years ago and which Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, described as a “defining test” in an interview with The Yorkshire Post in June last year.
They know that current trans-Pennine services would not be tolerated in the South East. It is why so much money has been invested into Crossrail, a new east-west line across London. By way of contrast, the North’s equivalent of Crossrail will remain a line on a map – and little else – until the Government accepts that this upgrade should be Britain’s top infrastructure priority because of its transformative potential.
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