Updated 10:53 with RMT quote
A CROSS-PARTY group of MPs is calling for a major boost in transport investment in the north of England. They say £100 billion needs to be invested by 2050 to redress the imbalance between London and the north.
The focus of their campaign is the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail plan, which Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake told the chancellor Stephen Hammond is at a ‘critical stage’.
Mr Hollinrake, who represents Thirsk and Malton, is the author of a letter to Mr Hammond. He is also co-chair of the Northern Powerhouse all-party parliamentary group.
The core of the plan is a new west-to-east railway, unofficially dubbed HS3.
Mr Hollinrake said: “Bringing forward the delivery date of NPR (Northern Powerhouse Rail) to the same time as HS2 arrives in the North could see the coming generation enjoy further education and job opportunities currently beyond young people today, and stimulate significant growth for the whole of the UK."
His colleague on the parliamentary group and co-chair is Labour’s Caroline Flint. She described the investment as a ‘must have’.
Ms Flint, who represents the South Yorkshire constituency of Don Valley, added: “We have seen the huge impact the recent timetable fiasco has had on the Northern Powerhouse - commuters unable to get to work, businesses losing out and childcare arrangements being disrupted. It is simply not good enough and needs urgent action to address the North's outdated transport network.”
The Group is also calling for further devolution to Transport for the North. In June this year, it alleged that “Northern Rail are in breach of their franchise, a matter which the Secretary of State must now also address.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It’s all very well this cross-party group of assorted grandees banging the drum for investment in transport across the North way off into the future but what passengers are crying out for is action in the here and now.
“No one should forget that it was Chris Grayling himself who axed key infrastructure and electrification projects and who has presided over the timetable chaos that has unleashed misery across the region. It is also Mr Grayling’s Department who have rigged the franchising process to try and drive the guards off the trains.
“We have all heard politicians trotting out the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ rhetoric while transport services have been allowed to sink into a continuing crisis with passengers and staff alike caught in the crossfire. That posturing has to stop.”