Boris Johnson slammed for claiming cut-price HS2 plan will deliver for Manchester and the North

Boris Johnson has been slammed after claiming the Government’s cut-price rail plan will deliver for the North.

The downgraded Northern Powerhouse Rail plan, adopted by Grant Shapps last year, cut the requested investment by roughly half and replaced much of the new track originally requested with upgrades to existing routes.

Instead of a 40-mile new high speed line all the way from Manchester to Leeds for example, a new line is proposed from Warrington to Marsden in Yorkshire, where it will be tacked onto an upgraded.

Readmore: Plans for HS2 on the cheap threaten to turn swathes of Manchester into a building site

Yet despite this, the Prime Minister claimed this afternoon that he was “gonna build Northern Powerhouse Rail”. His comment from him will likely inflame temperatures in Manchester, where just days ago experts warned the current HS2 proposals for the city could seriously jeopardize the whole NPR project.

Plans for a surface station, rather than an underground through-hub, means NPR could not be brought back to life in the future as the hub will hit full capacity from day one.

Analysis by the council shows the surface station will rob the region’s economy of £333m a year by 2050, compared to an underground hub. The Government has dismissed the underground option on the basis that it will cost, according to High Speed ​​rail CEO Clive Maxwell, £5bn more. Yet no evidence of this cost has been provided.

Manchester council’s analysis of how high-speed trains would enter and leave Piccadilly

Mr Johnson, speaking at PMQs, said: “This is a Government that loves the railways, that invests in the railways, £96 billion we’re putting into the integrated railway plan and we’re gonna build Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

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Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison said: “NPR only as far as Marsden and not via Bradford to Leeds is not what was promised eight years ago.”

Stalybridge MP Jonathan Reynolds added: “You simply cannot believe a word he says.”

What do you think? Have your say in our comments below.

Earlier in the question session, Mr Johnson faced a grilling over the industrial action on the railways currently crippling the country.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The Prime Minister of this country and his Transport Secretary haven’t attended a single meeting, held a conversation or lifted a finger to stop these strikes.

“But I did note that on Monday they did find time to go to a lavish ball where the Prime Minister sold a meeting with himself for £120,000. So rather than blame everyone else why doesn’t he do his job, get round the table and get the trains running?”

Mr Johnson replied: “We are making sure that we do everything we can to prevent these strikes. He knows it is up to the railway companies to negotiate, that is their job. We’ve spent £16 billion looking after the railways throughout the pandemic, that’s cost every household £600.

He added: “We know why he won’t condemn the strikes, we know why even now he hasn’t got the gumption to call out his MPs for going out to support the pickets. The reason his authority is on the line in this matter is that they take £10 million, that’s the fee the learned gentleman opposite is receiving for the case he is failing to make.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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