Posted 16th February 2021 | 6 Comments

Concern grows over Northern Powerhouse Rail

A DELAY in publishing the Department for Transport’s Integrated Rail Plan is causing more concern at Transport for the North, whose board is set to be told that improvements to the region’s rail services are also being affected by the uncertainty.

TfN had already reacted with dismay in January when cuts to its budget seemed likely. TfN board members had expressed ‘disappointment’ that TfN seemed likely to get less than half the amount which had been set out in the authority’s Spending Review bid, and warned that such cuts would come at a time when the ‘levelling-up agenda’ – as well as supporting an economic recovery from Covid-19 – was ‘needed more than ever’.

When the TfN board meets on Thursday, it will consider documents which warn that improvements to the rail corridors between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, a key part of Northern Powerhouse Rail, will depend on the DfT’s delayed rail plan.

The DfT conceded that although the forthcoming plan ’could require changes’, it said these were not expected to affect the timetable for construction. It added that ‘no decisions have been taken on Northern Powerhouse Rail options’.

Other changes could take place more quickly, because the DfT launched a public consultation last month about three possible patterns of train services in Greater Manchester, which could be introduced in the near future.

The first option makes few changes, but the second sacrifices the through service between Sheffield and Manchester Airport in return for increasing services between Cleethorpes, Nottingham and Sheffield to Manchester and Liverpool, while the final option makes the most changes, with more frequent trains proposed on a number of routes.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • M Wood, Sheffield

    The present mood music no matter what the PM says is a retrenchment in some major projects the North will probably be the first on the list as is the norm, but we can’t wait another 20yrs especially between South Yorkshire & Greater Manchester the roads across the Pennines are not far removed from packhorse routes, a modern electrified Woodhead route which for a substantial part is 4 track formation & lends to easement in numerous locations,the route as no flat Jcts, & with all the large housing developments in the Stockbridge & Penistone area along with direct connections to Barnsley & rail connected villages south west of Huddersfield, for most of the route miles it’s a greenfield site far easier to modernise than a working railway, surely using the excuse that the Woodhead Railway Tunnel being used as a conduit for an electricity cable could seal the routes fate is out of the question.

  • H. Gillies-Smith, South Milford

    Northern Powerhouse Rail, indeed. What have we seen to the east of the Pennines so far that can be attributed to it? One new bay platform at Leeds and, in excess of the stautory requirement, eyesore security fencing all the way from Leeds to Selby. Enclosing in adjoining owners land, obstructing public footpaths and access to level crossings. Where's the headine grabbing scheme e.g. electrification of the railway between Guide Bridge/York/Selby?
    Typical for Yorkshire, the only decision ever made is to not make one. Spend time and effort looking for reasons why not to do it insted of getting on with the job.

  • Steve Alston, Crewe

    Now is the time for government to make the savings necessary, and slice off the fat to allow the railway to remain 'open'.

    > Shut the PTEs and TFN, DfT directly managing all their undertakings
    > Merge several TOCs to reduce duplicatory management costs
    > Totally remove the current illegal cartel of leasing companies
    > Thorough assessment of all non-uniformed roles at every operator
    > 30% reductions to daytime leisure trains, to preserve first & last trains.
    > Thorough assessment of all Network Rail non-operational job roles

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    In terms of history covid19 will havecas much relevance as flu18 in the 20th Century did and given the timescales of building HS2 will be history long before HS2 opens.

    One only has to watch series about the GWR made last year to see how passengers returned during the summer when we opened up and the virus retreated and that was without the benefit of vaccination which will make a far bigger difference this year !

    If anything social distancing means we will need more capacity to handle fewer passengers especially if crammed carriages are to be avoided.

    If anything Rail gives far more space than road or air transport!

  • Christopher Jones-Bridger, Buckley Flintshire

    As ever with the northern rail networks too much talking and always jam tomorrow.

    It will soon be 30 years since the Aire Valley electrification was completed. Over two decades later the North West triangle electrification project was completed. Both projects have highlighted the benefits of the introduction of good quality electrified services in their respective commuter networks. Where through are the plans for the follow up infill electrification schemes? Slogans like 'Build Back Better' are little more than empty rhetoric if the shovel ready schemes aren't there to take up the opportunity presented to restore economic activity during this great upheaval.

    Grand schemes like HS3 are fine but the upgrade of the core northern network still needs to be addressed. Given the amount of good quality EMU stock currently being replaced, coming off lease and going straight to scrap an opportunity is being lost before our eyes.

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    The trouble is that no-one knows what Commuter and Passenger use of the Railway will be post-Covid. Everyone is trying to look in their Crystal Balls to predict the Future. For example the Church of England thinks it will be lucky to get back 80% of its attendees at Sunday services, and is making plans to make 20% of its Vicars redundant. What does the future hold for Town Shopping, Air Travel, working from home ? All those will have a drastic effect on Rail Travel. It most certainly won't be back to 2019.
    [You have rightly said 'no-one knows', so how do you know 'it most certainly won't be back to 2019'?--Ed.]