York Green Party welcomes the announcement of the Northern Transport Acceleration Council (NTAC) and a Department for Transport (DfT) North. For too long we have seen the needs of the North neglected with long term underinvestment. In 2018-19 Yorkshire and the Humber received £276 per person for transport investment, compared to a national average of £481 per person and a whopping £903 per person in London. It is hardly surprising that rail and bus infrastructure is inadequate across the region, and needs considerable investment to bring it up to a standard to meet the needs of all people across the region. Electrification offers many benefits including faster journey times, greater train capacity, no more smelly fumes and no CO2 belched into the atmosphere as electric trains can use sustainably generated electricity.
Over the years we have seen huge amounts of investment in the South including HS1 (£7.3 billion) from London to the Kent coast, Crossrail (£17.8 billion), HS2 from (£42 billion ) London to Birmingham, with approval for other stages not yet given. In this light the £589 million (just 1% of the cost of the schemes listed) to upgrade the Transpennine route is clearly not at all generous when the cost of the upgrade is £2.9 billion. What is more, this is a scheme that was already announced in 2018 by Chris Grayling, and then cancelled, and is being announced again, for at least the third time.
It is essential that this time the scheme is fully funded and covers an upgrade to the whole of the Transpennine route from Scarborough and Middlesbrough and Edinburgh and Hull through York and Leeds to Manchester and Liverpool.
But the Transpennine route is only a small part of the neglected rail network in Yorkshire, with the mostly single track route from York to Harrogate and onto Leeds being slow with poorly equipped stations and old, dirty trains. This too needs upgrading with more frequent electric trains.
Councillor Andy D’Agorne, Executive member for transport says:
“The Northern Transport Acceleration Council provides a useful start in bringing rail up to standard to routes serving York, but much more is needed to transform public transport. I will continue to campaign for a properly funded public railway that serves the needs of everyone in York and beyond”. Country and Regional Analysis, ONS, November 2019 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/847025/CRA_2019_-_main_text.pdf  http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/rail-news/looking-back-over-hs1-10-years-on#:~:text=HS1%2C%20the%20line%20running%20between,as%20a%20service%20since%202007.  https://www.crossrail.co.uk/about-us/funding#:~:text=Funding-,Funding,Crossrail%20scheme%20in%20its%20entirety.  https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jan/20/hs2-costs-government-review-west-midlands-manchester-leeds  http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/Rail-News/network-rail-reveals-detailed-29bn-upgrade-plans-for-transpennine-route