Leeds rail network at ‘capacity as mayor issues HS2 warning

WEST Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin today warns that the North will pay a heavy price if the eastern leg of HS2 is not built in full to Leeds.

Rail services in Leeds are already operating at capacity, warns West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin today ahead of Transport for the North's annual conference.

The Labour politician also issues a stark warning in The Yorkshire Post that the rail network is already operating at “capacity” in Leeds – and that new lines must be built if more trains are to operate in the future.

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Tracy Brabin is the mayor of West Yorkshire.

Her intervention coincides with Transport for the North’s annual meeting where Martin Tugwell, the new chief executive, will call for new powers to develop services as a charter is unveiled to put passengers first.

“There is a prize of building a New North up for grabs, but it requires both investment to create transformational change, and the devolution of powers to those best placed to use them,” said Mr Tugwell last night.

Doubts persist about the future of the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds.

“Our Northern Transport Charter sets out how the investment made in TfN can be used to provide leadership and to determine what is best for our region.

“With further devolution and control over investment and policy decisions, we can work to close the North-South divide, unleash the North’s economic potential, and make real the levelling up agenda.”

Rail services in Leeds are already operating at capacity, warns West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin today ahead of Transport for the North's annual conference.

However the conference, which is being held in Leeds, comes amid growing speculation that the Government is to pull the plug on the eastern leg of HS2 between Yorkshire and Birmingham on order to save costs.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson has repeatedly refused to confirm the status of the Leeds link – and he again chose not to do so after his reappointment was one of the last to be finalised in Boris Johnson’s wide-ranging reshuffle last week.

He simply tweeted that he was “delighted to remain in post” and working on projects like “HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the TransPennine Route Upgrade”.

But Ms Brabin, writing in today’s edition, says the TransPennine link to Manchester will only become “the best train line in the country”, with a new station in Bradford, if HS2 is built in full.

And, renewing her call for Ministers to sign off the much-delayed Integrated Rail Plan that will determine the outcome of new infrastructure projects, the mayor also warns: “Leeds station is already at 100 per cent capacity and our zero carbon commitments mean we must get freight and people off our roads and onto trains.

“As business leaders have continuously said to government: more uncertainty means less opportunity for business investment and development in places like West Yorkshire.”

She also stresses that high-speed rail’s eastern leg – serving 13 million people – “matters not just for jobs but for the future of the planet” amid fears that investment in Yorkshire will be hit if HS2 only links London with the West Midlands and Manchester.

Boris Johnson’s former ally in levelling up ‘slogan’ warning

BORIS JOHNSON’S former communications chief Lee Cain has warned the PM that levelling up “can’t just be high streets and infrastructure”.

His intervention on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show came as political adversaries Michael Heseltine and Andy Burnham backed the decision to put Michael Gove in charge of this policy at a rebranded Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities,

“The critique of levelling up is that it is a slogan without a policy,” said Mr Cain. “I think the Government certainly needs to do more work to shape that message. It can’t just be high streets and infrastructure, it’s got to be a far broader scope involving business and community leaders.”

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