Business and political leaders lobby for ‘fair transport deal’ for the North

"The patience of people... has run out".

Demands for the Government to deliver a “fair deal” on transport for the north of England will be be made in Leeds today by political and business leaders.

The transport summit comes after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling supported the new £30bn Crossrail 2 scheme in London and the South East, days after a series of rail projects in Wales, the Midlands and the North were axed or downgraded.

It also comes a day after former Chancellor George Osborne called for “HS3” high-speed rail lines between Liverpool and Hull.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the event shows “the patience of people… has run out”.

But Grayling however, said the region’s leaders should take control themselves rather than blaming the Government.

He said: “The success of northern transport depends on the North itself.”

The summit in Leeds brings together the political leaders of Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, and Newcastle, as well as organisations including IPPR North and Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority chair and Bradford Council leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “Despite the commitments made to our region, before and during the General Election by government ministers, over the last few weeks we have seen Ministers hinting they will be cutting back on planned transport improvements in the North.

“As business leaders have stated, the North’s prosperity is critical to the UK’s overall competitiveness. Failing to invest in a 21st Century northern transport network alongside the significant investment that’s already underway in the South East is not in the national interest.

“And, as George Osborne has rightly said, Northern Powerhouse Rail, which needs to include stations in Bradford, Leeds and York, would transform the economy of the North to the benefit of the whole country.

“I cannot stress enough just how important investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail is for the great cities of the north.  We need NPR to link with HS2 in Leeds in order to gain the maximum benefits from the overall investment.  Only then will we see the huge economic benefits that these major new routes can bring right across West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region.”

Leeds City Council leader, Cllr Judith Blake, added: “West Yorkshire’s council leaders are writing to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to express our concerns about his recent statement and to reiterate that improved rail connectivity across the North is key to boosting long-term productivity within our communities and for our businesses.

“We want Government commitment to the Trans-Pennine Route Upgrade, which is central to our plans, as part of a sustained investment programme that also includes HS2, East Coast Mainline and Northern Powerhouse Rail. And we will be calling for a meeting with Mr Grayling to discuss ways to work constructively with him and his colleagues to ensure Leeds City Region can play its full part in achieving the Minister’s commitment to ensuring that all parts of the UK share in the opportunities of a strong economy.”