South Yorkshire Mayor calls for ‘immediate clarity’ on questions surrounding Network North scheme

The Mayor of South Yorkshire has called upon the government to answer several questions following the announcement of its new transport scheme.
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This week, the government announced that the planned Birmingham to Manchester route of the long-awaited railway project HS2 would be scrapped.

In its place, a new scheme titled Network North has been promised, involving a series of transport improvements across the country.

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Plans for South Yorkshire include the reinstatement of the former Don Valley railway line, upgrades to the Hope Valley line between Manchester and Sheffield, and “quadrupled” services between Leeds and Sheffield.

South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard.South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard.
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard.

South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard responded to the announcement:

“I’m deeply concerned. The PM’s announcement to scrap HS2 creates huge uncertainty for transport plans across South Yorkshire and the rest of the north.

“New promises with very little clarity about how or when money will be made available. Projects and priorities were chosen with no consultation: a new shopping list created but no details of how it will check out.

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“The precedent is that the Government don’t deliver for the North. How can we trust this new plan when since 2019 alone we have been promised HS2 in full, Northern Powerhouse Rail in full, an Integrated Rail Plan, a London style transport system and Levelling-Up?

“Now every single one of those promises has been thrown into chaos, while failing to solve a single problem today.”

Mayor Coppard has released questions for the government, for which he has called for “immediate clarity”:

  • Over the last decade 40 per cent of bus routes have been lost in South Yorkshire. What do the government intend to do about the crisis in bus service funding immediately?
  • With HS2 now scrapped ‘in full’, when will the blight on properties in South Yorkshire be lifted? At what date will families living on or near the planned route have legal certainty?
  • The PM has said yesterday’s decision will ‘quadruple’ services between Sheffield and Leeds. That would mean up to 20 services per hour, one every three minutes. When will this be in place, and where is the business case that supports this decision?
  • When the Eastern Leg of HS2 was scrapped, we were promised HS2 trains would still run to South Yorkshire, albeit not on HS2 tracks. That promise was reiterated in July of this year. Is that commitment still in place?
  • What is the cost of the Hope Valley upgrade? When will it be delivered? Will it allow us to reinstate services to Manchester Airport? Where is the business case that supports this decision?
  • What is the cost of reopening the Don Valley line, and when will the project be delivered? We have asked to run trams on that line, a plan supported by Network Rail. Is the government intending to run heavy rail or light rail on that route?
  • Was funding for our plans to reopen DSA considered?
  • As a percentage, how much of the money ‘saved’ by scrapping the northern part of HS2 will be spent outside of the north?
  • Will northern transport authorities be asked to compete or bid for any new pots of funding, or projects? If so, when will the rules be announced?