THE founding father of HS2 says today that high-speed rail is the only way to improve services across the North’s network as a cross-party alliance of Yorkshire backbenchers press Boris Johnson for immediate improvements to commuter routes.
Andrew Adonis, who instigated the project when Transport Secretary in Gordon Brown’s government, says building a new North-South line is the best way to increase capacity as Ministers consider whether the £100bn-plus cost is economically justifiable or not.
“It could not be more vital to our economic future,” the Labour peer writes in The Yorkshire Post. “Rail demand has doubled in the past 15 years alone.
“HS2 does not just meet this demand for intercity travel; by freeing up substantial capacity on the existing lines it will make it possible to run far more freight trains and commuter and regional passenger services.
“The big question is, if not HS2, what? The only alternative to HS2 for dealing with the capacity crunch is massive further upgrades of the existing Victorian railway.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the Oakervee review into HS2 will be published next month amid speculation that the links from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester could be delayed.
Meanwhile three West Yorkshire MPs pressed Mr Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions to committing to improving commuter services as the DfT considers the future of the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises following months of delays and cancellations.
Conservative MPs Mark Eastwood (Dewsbury) and Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) were joined by Labour’s Holly Lynch, who represents Halifax, as pressure grew on Mr Johnson.
Asked if the Government would back both HS2, and Northern Powerhouse Rail, Mr Johnson said: “We are already investing a record £48bnin rail services, excluding HS2. It is right that we should look at the value that this country could get from a scheme as costly as HS2, with estimates now rising to £100bn.”