Renewed calls for better east-west links in the North

Northern Powerhouse Rail Director Tim Wood has repeated his criticism of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) for setting major rail projects against each other.

“NIC was tasked with integrating projects, not setting them against each other. It’s really important we look at levelling up,” Wood told February 4’s The future of rail infrastructure in the UK - CP6, the Integrated Rail Plan, and delivering modernisation virtual conference.

In its Rail Needs for the Midlands and the North report, published on December 15 2020 (RAIL 921), the NIC had suggested a focus on regional upgrades such as electrifying the Midland Main Line, rather than building the full HS2 Eastern Leg to Yorkshire.

Wood made the point that Transport for the North’s NPR plans rely on 50 miles of HS2 being built. He called on Government to be ambitious, adding that northern England needs proper east-west links as well as those to London.

In a later question and answer session, Wood said northern England had been “shackled for four decades”, citing journeys between Bradford and Leeds. The cities are eight miles apart, but the train journey is 27 minutes, he told delegates. Meanwhile, some 45,000 people make the journey by car each day, which he said presents an opportunity for rail.

At the same event, NIC Chief Executive Officer James Heath acknowledged that December’s report had created debate, but said: “All our regional packages include HS2, but also recognise connectivity. The NIC would not be doing its job if it just repeated projects.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 925, published on February 24, and available digitally from February 20.

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  • Steve Alston - 07/02/2021 12:36

    Little change actually happens, every time. A real solution is close down operator Transpennine Express, and run it as an TP branded sub-division of Northern. Scottish services should transfer to the West Coast franchise. The removal of all those duplicatory departments money spent having an extra franchise or contract could be redirected into actual improvements.

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    • Dan Sellers - 18/02/2021 12:43

      For and against, because in BR days Pacers (now withdrawn) and 156s (tolerable) often stood in for 158s, yet had it remained as one company the cascaded 158s would have stayed with the company and halved the 142 fleet back in 2007!

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