THE Yorkshire Post has long suspected that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is trying to fob this region off with second best when it comes to upgrading the trans-Pennine railway. This misgiving is now borne out by the Cabinet minister’s latest interview that could be construed as lacking ambition.
“What the North won’t have is a 250mph railway from east to west because that’s not what that needs. It’s more likely to be 125mph because of the distances,” he told The Times.
Once again, Mr Grayling does not grasp the level of anger here about his approach to policy-making – and decades of under-investment by successive governments.
This region is not expecting 250mph trains now or at some stage in the future. The average speed between Leeds and Manchester, two great cities of the North, is 50mph. But it does want Mr Grayling to be sufficiently open-minded and for the Government to press ahead with the plan that best meets the future economic needs of the region, and which has the potential to benefit the greatest number of people. Furthermore, residents and businesses also want the Transport Secretary to show the same enthusiasm that he’s bestowed upon Crossrail and other projects in London.
As such, political and business leaders should heed the advice of Lord Adonis, the former head of the National Infrastructure Commission. He has urged them to finalise their trans-Pennine rail plan by the end of the year, if the scheme is not to play second fiddle to Crossrail 2 which Mr Grayling is advocating for the capital. It is a task which has just become even more important – and urgent.