Sheffield transport leader warns of ‘bad deal’ from Government over Northern Powerhouse Rail project

A Sheffield transport leader has cautioned that the city is likely to get a "bad deal" from the Government amid uncertainties surrounding the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) proposal for high-speed Leeds to Manchester line project.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 8:11 pm

During a board meeting held on Thursday afternoon with other transport leaders from the north, Chair of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Transport Forum Peter Kennan said they "will not roll over and compromise on levelling-up."

He said this after the leaders were told they could only submit its case for the project after the Government publishes its own rail plans.

"The Northern Powerhouse Rail full business case is ready but we have been instructed not to submit it. We cannot even say what is in it," he said.

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In the one-hour virtual meeting, the leaders said they have been 'marginalised' on plans for the NPR project.

The Transport for the North (TfN) was supposed to present their business case to the Government by March.

But it has been revealed in the meeting that they were asked to delay their proposal by the Government until the Department of Transport publishes its own plans for rail across the country – known as Integrated Rail Plan.

The Government’s plans will include how the scheme will link up with High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) and other major infrastructure projects.

This also means that the Northern transport leaders will not have a say on these projects.

Mr Kennan said there was a constant concern that Sheffield City Region was "going to get a bad deal from the Government", despite their best efforts.

He added: "This view was echoed by many of those attending in speaking about their own areas of the north.

"One thing is clear. The north is as united as ever and we will not roll over and compromise on levelling-up."

NPR is a new rail network for the North of England aimed at increasing the rail capacity that features new and significantly upgraded railway lines.

It is said to have the ability to improve journey times and boost the number of trains per hour, allowing the northern economy to operate on a better level.