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Backlash over government Crossrail 2 backing

Andy Burnham Mayor of Greater Manchester

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.

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.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Philip Alexander

    I'm not surprised at the regional leaders feeling betrayed by London politicians. This government is so London-centric, perhaps Southeast-centric to stretch it, that they cannot see beyond Watford. Whatever happened to the Northern Powerhouse? Ho ho. Now it's the Midlands Engine and before long it will be the Thames Valley windup motor.
    HS2 is the most alarming waste of money this country will ever have seen. It addresses no need, without a business case, no robust cost estimates and yet is being rammed through the countryside with alarming force, insensitivity and complete thoughtlessness. It really is the case of 'the emperor's new clothes' and no one in or near government has the b**ls to challenge the PM (can't think why- it seemed that her election debacle would have been the signal for sensible MPs to say no). But if the government really was serious about sharing the wealth and jobs around the country instead of concentrating it in the SE, then instead of building HS2 (which saves those poor hard done by souls living in spitting distance of a new £8billion Euston station (who would do that I hear you ask?) about 10 minutes journey time to Birmingham, arriving into a station completely unconnected to the rest of the rail network), they would build a HS line from Liverpool to Hull and create a serious freight and passenger "trans-north" corridor where a highspeed or at least 150mph train journey between Liverpool and Hull really would make a difference in travel time and might actually stimulate movement. Then businesses would see the value of setting up in this corridor and actually help with the economy post Brexit. If that's a success then link it to London with a quasi highspeed line but for goodness sake join it up to HS1. There's already HS infrastructure going into St Pancras, why smash the Euston area to pieces just to squeeze HS2 into that congested space?
    This is so blindingly obvious to a "proper" civil engineer, why oh why is this folly being allowed to proceed?

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  • Philip your comments on the Liverpool - Hull HS link is absolutely correct , Michael Heseltine championed it as the Atlantic Bridge. But of course Mrs May has sacked him from all Government offices. The Northern Powerhouse is most assuredly dead.

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