The government has faced a backlash from regional leaders over its backing for London’s £31bn Crossrail 2 project.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling announced his support for the project earlier this week, days after the government cancelled rail electrification schemes around the country.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham led the charge saying people in Manchester had put up with “sub-standard rail services for decades” and would not accept that spending billions more on London was the country’s highest priority for transport infrastructure.
“This statement from the transport secretary will cause widespread anger across the North of England,” he said. “With every day that passes, the promise of a northern powerhouse becomes ever more distant.”
Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said he did not “begrudge” infrastructure investment in London, but called for spending to be balanced across the country.
“Rebalancing the UK economy was recognised in both major party manifestos in the recent General Election but this cannot be achieved without the North receiving its fair slice of the transport cake,” said Rotheram.
“Sadly the juxtaposition of last week’s cancellation of northern rail electrification schemes and this week’s green light for Crossrail, suggests it is just going to be business as usual from this government when it comes to transport investment.”
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald has also waded into the argument echoing Rotheram by saying investing in London and investing around the country was not an either/or choice.
Investment in London & investment across the UK isn’t an— Andy McDonald MP (@AndyMcDonaldMP) July 24, 2017
either/or choice, as the Tories believe. For a balanced economy we need both.
Burnham now plans to rally other mayors and council leaders across the North to challenge the decision.
Crossrail 2 managing director Michèle Dix said recently that the cost of building the line would increase by £1.8bn each year that it was delayed.