Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has branded the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan a ‘total betrayal’ for communities across the North of England.
The Government today unveiled its controversial Integrated Rail Plan to bring high speed train travel to the midlands and the North. Despite the Government pledging a high-speed line from Birmingham to Leeds and another between Leeds and Manchester, the Government will instead propose that its Northern Powerhouse Rail line is made up of half a new high-speed line, and the other half solely consisting of upgrades to existing infrastructure. The eastern leg of HS2 rail from Birmingham to Leeds had also been shelved.
This decision is despite the Prime Minister explicitly stating that he would ‘deliver’ on ‘his commitment’ to build a new line, and the pledge being a key component of the Government’s 2019 election manifesto.
Commenting on the new rail plans, Andrew Gwynne said:
“Make no mistake, this watering down of the so-called Northern Powerhouse Rail Line is a total betrayal to communities across the North of England. We were promised a completely new line. We were lied to. Simple as that.
This Government was elected because it promised to ‘level-up’ the North. You can’t move in Westminster without hearing the phrase being parroted by Government Ministers and spokespeople. Yet when it comes down to it, what do we get? Just more broken promises.
The Government is simply opting for the cheaper option here and hoping that we don’t notice that it bears no resemblance to the flashy pledges made by the PM in 2019 and earlier this year. Upgrading half of the line will not increase capacity and will not level-up the North. You can’t revolutionise rail on the cheap.
I pride myself on not being party-political about these things. If an idea is good, it’s good no matter which side of the House proposes it. Northern communities, including Denton and Reddish, have been promised a transformational Rail plan in some form since 2014. We have been ignored and been left waiting for far too long.
Had the Government stuck to its promises, I would have been the first to welcome it. Instead, I’m left with the all-too familiar feeling that yet again, northern communities have been swindled and taken for granted. It is incredibly frustrating and profoundly disappointing.”