RIA North gives qualified welcome to Integrated Rail Plan update, but more detail is required
RIA North gives a qualified welcome to the publication of the Government’s 13 July response to the Transport Select Committee report on the 2021 Integrated Rail Plan for the North & Midlands (IRP). However, it is a concern that this is the first significant public communication on developing the IRP in over two years and more detail is still required to inform both the public and the railway supply chain.
There are a number of encouraging points in the response:
- It is positive that the Government is now expecting to complete the Strategic Outline Business Case for Northern Powerhouse Rail later this year. Whilst two years later than Transport for the North intended to complete this work, positively this will include consideration of a range of options, including a new station in Bradford.
- It is welcome that the Terms of Reference for the study on how to get HS2 trains to Leeds will be published this week. It is also encouraging that both the routes to Leeds and for the Golborne Link – which provides the capacity necessary for HS2 trains to get to and from Scotland – on the West Coast Main Line are safeguarded. It remains the case that only by building HS2 in full, including the Eastern Leg, will the full benefits of the scheme be realised.
- Additionally, RIA North supports the assurance that in addition to Bradford the stations at Leeds and Manchester will be given further consideration, especially with regard to the potential of land value capture.
RIA North and our members are clear that all the projects within the IRP should be included in the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline (RNEP), and we remain concerned that this still has not been updated more than three and a half years after it was announced there would be annual updates. This information is vital to inform rail supplier business’s investment decisions and its continuing absence damages industry confidence and capability.
Commenting, RIA North Chair, Justin Moss, said: “It is positive to see progress on the Integrated Rail Plan for the North & Midlands, and we are pleased that the UK Government is willing to reconsider the route to Bradford, which suggests that the locally preferred Northern Powerhouse Rail proposals were the right approach for levelling up.
“It is also good news that the Terms of Reference for study into the HS2 route to Leeds will be published imminently, and the plans to get HS2 trains to and from Scotland are being actively pursued.
“However, it is clearly disappointing that it has taken so long for this thinking to be shared – more than two years – and we respectfully urge the Government to be more open with its communications on rail schemes in the future, providing more visibility on the progress of these important investments. Better visibility of the Government’s future planning for rail means not just the railway supply sector benefits – supporting thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of GVA – but also the travelling public and the taxpayer, who will get the best possible value for money as we seek to build the world-class rail network we all want to see in the North of England in the years ahead.”