YOUR COLUMNIST Tom Richmond (The Yorkshire Post, July 4) states that it is unacceptable that Pacer trains are still in use, and that the attitude towards addressing the aims of the Northern Powerhouse needs to change – this is absolutely correct. The assertion that such trains would be unacceptable in The South also should be heeded.
Contrast the developments on HS2/HS3 to the Lower Thames Tunnel. Despite decades of under-investment in the North and the Midlands, there are still moves afoot to force a half-baked solution of either HS2 or HS3 – but certainly not both – on vast swathes of the country.
Contrast this attitude to investment in London and the South-East. A couple of days ago the groundworks began on the £7bn Lower Thames Tunnel.There has been no outrage over The Lower Thames Tunnel from the Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, no BBC and Channel 4 documentaries trying to stop the tunnel, no BBC Any Questions and Question Time continually calling it a vanity project, and no campaigns against it from the hard right Institute of Economic Affairs or the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
There is no doubt that the Lower Thames Tunnel is required, and it will alleviate pressure in East London, Essex and Kent – nobody begrudges the investment.
However infrastructure is also required to alleviate even more acute pressure in the North, the Midlands and Scotland.
I do hope Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, fighting for the Tory leadership, are asked:
What about the East and West Coast Main Lines? Weekend after weekend, they are closed and full. Need HS2
Connectivity between the Midlands and the North and onto Scotland? Woeful. Need HS2
HS2 being required as essential part of Northern Powerhouse Rail. HS3 will cost more without HS2. Need HS2.
Regional rail and freight need improving. Need HS2.
If there is no positive focus on these points, then sadly, as has happened far too frequently over decades, the North, the Midlands and Scotland will be short changed – and despite all the detailed plans from Transport for the North and Midlands Connect – they will have been wilfully ignored. This is not good enough and a democratic deficit – as note in the new Power Up The North campaign, being led by the media across the North. I do hope that the Tory contenders will address issues, rather than dismissing them, as some critics are inclined to do, with a banal “HS2 is just a vanity project”.