Yorkshire MP fears 'a drastic scaling back' of Northern Powerhouse Rail

A Yorkshire MP believes there will be “a drastic scaling back” of Northern Powerhouse Rail and Bradford will be cut from the route.

Judith Cummins, Labour MP for Bradford South, raised her concerns in Parliament this week

Judith Cummins, Labour MP for Bradford South, raised her concerns in Parliament this week after Chancellor Rishi Sunak failed to mention the rail project or the eastern leg of HS2 in his Budget speech.

There is mounting speculation about the future of both rail projects and fears they may be scaled back to save money. The Government has said it will lay out clear plans for the lines when it publishes the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) "soon".

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“I trust that if the Government had positive news for Bradford, they would not keep it secret - they would not be quite so shy or blushing about it,” said Ms Cummins.

“I can only conclude that the rumours are correct, and that there is to be a drastic scaling back of Northern Powerhouse Rail, with no city centre stop in Bradford."

The Government has not set a date for when the long-awaited IRP will be published, but Transport for the North said it cannot complete the business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail until it is released.

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HS2 Ltd is also unable to press ahead with work on the eastern leg, which is due to link Leeds and the West Midlands, and apply for Parliamentary approval for the project until it sees the IRP.

Ms Cummins said: “We still have no firm date for when the IRP will be published. Despite the Government’s promises, they seem happy that transport spending is set to continue to be disproportionately centred on London and South East England.

“I have no doubt that more promises will come forward, but I fear that we will be asked to settle for just an upgrade of the existing train line, which will be rebadged as Northern Powerhouse Rail - more smoke, and more mirrors.

“Bradford needs and deserves more than that.”

She said the Government must commit to building Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and the eastern leg of HS2, as well as the Trans-Pennine route upgrade.

“Time and again in this House, I have raised the north-south economic imbalance, and time and again Ministers have responded with warm words, but nothing concrete. Let us have no more shallow promises. It is time to deliver,” she said.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: The IRP will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b and other transformational projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the North and Midlands need and deserve.”