Smart Transport

Transport for North says Government has “breached commitments” with new rail plan

Cllr Louise Gittins, interim chair of Transport for the North

Transport for the North (TfN) is going back to the Government with proposals it hopes could revive the scrapped plans for the Midlands to Leeds leg of HS2.

The Government confirmed it would not be going ahead with the Eastern leg of its HS2 rail line last week, as part of its Integrated Rail Plan (IRP).

Cllr Louise Gittins, interim chair of TfN chaired a press conference in Leeds this week to share an initial response to the IRP. Gittins had already called the IRP "woefully inadequate".

Gittins said: “There was complete unity in the room today. All political parties and businesses have come together to come up with a resolution.

“We are all in agreement that the proposals in the IRP breach the commitments the Government had previously made on Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

“We want to go back to the Government with our plan. We need to deliver all of NPR if we are to meet all the economic ambitions for the North, including our decarbonisation strategy.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who was also in attendance as part of the conference, acknowledged Manchester did not suffer as badly as other regions in the North with the HS2 plans.

However, he said: “The greatest concern for all the North is connectivity between East and West.

“We’ve come back with a positive suggestion to move things forward.

“We don’t want to do this necessarily, but the idea is we could look at a local contribution through land value capture on funding to fulfil the full vision of NPR.

“Give us the best version of NPR and then that unlocks the most benefit to the economy and we can capture some of that to pay back the investment of the infrastructure.

“If you look at this purely through the lens of cost, which is what I think the Government has done, you don’t see that bigger long term picture.”

Land value capture is a policy approach that enables communities to recover and reinvest land value increases that result from public investment and government actions.

It’s thought land values would increase if HS2 was to go ahead as planned to connected cities like Leeds and Bradford.

Gittins said: “If the Government could come and talk to us, we have solutions and some evidence.

“We’re still waiting on the evidence behind the Government’s decision on HS2 and that will be interesting when that is released.

“We can demonstrate the value of what we’re proposing, rather than the cost.”

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