Prime Minister pledges Northern Powerhouse, but no mention of HS2

Prime Minister pledges Northern Powerhouse, but no mention of HS2

Boris Johnson has told his party’s conference that the cities of the midlands and north will be ‘linked up’, and that ‘we will do’ Northern Powerhouse Rail, but he did not mention the fate of the eastern leg of HS2. He said: ‘We will do Northern Powerhouse rail, we will link up the cities of the midlands and the north, we will restore those sinews of the union that have been allowed to atrophy, the A1 north of Berwick and on into Scotland, the A 75 in Scotland that is so vital for the links with northern Ireland and the rest of the country.’ 

Earlier this week, transport secretary Grant Shapps told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that ‘when HS2 was first thought about, we didn’t have Northern Powerhouse Rail, we didn’t have the Midlands Rail Hub. A lot has changed’. His remarks were interpreted as a strong hint that the eastern leg is set to be postponed or even abandoned, but he also said that the details would be included in his Department’s forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan.

However, the Prime Minister’s pledge about Northern Powerhouse Rail has been welcomed by Transport for the North’s director of Northern Powerhouse Rail Tim Wood. He said: ‘It was good to hear the Prime Minister say that the greatest challenge for the country was levelling up its economy and its society and that building Northern Powerhouse Rail was central to that. Like us, he recognised that poor rail links across the North are contributing to the national imbalance in our economy and called transport “the supreme leveller-upper”. We have worked collaboratively with the Government over the past two years to come up with a blueprint for a new rail network that will free the North from the constraints of poor infrastructure that have held it back for far too long. We need now to make this NPR a reality. We stand ready to work with the Government to deliver for the North and for the whole country.’