Boris Johnson confirmed at the beginning of February that HS2 would continue between London and Birmingham while the second phase of HS2 which would connect Manchester to Leeds would also go ahead. This meant that certain areas of the Northern Powerhouse Rail would be prioritised. Along with this, a HS2 minister would be put in place and this turned out to become the role of Andrew Stephenson.
Following his first speech, Mr Stepehenson said “ “It was a huge honour last week to be given responsibility for HS2 and for Northern Powerhouse Rail in this new government. Like so many other northerners, I’ve been frustrated over the years as all the decisions seem to be taken away by civil servants and ministers in London, and we’ve had so little say on the decisions that affect us directly. But thankfully, that is now changing.”
“We’ve established Transport for the North. And through our Transforming Cities Fund, we’re delivering more than £1 billion to Metro Mayors over the next five years.”
He also discussed the way in which the government had stepped in to make changes to northern rail services with a focus on reliability and passenger trust. To do this, he focused on a need to increase capacity with new rail links between the north and south and east and west. This is the reason why HST and Northern Powerhouse Rail is going ahead.
There are critics who are claiming that HS2 will only benefit London but that is not the truth. This is because there is a real need for better rail links in the north. However, all of this can only be achieved by having a greater grip on the costs.
So, the project has to be delivered correctly and so, this will involve bringing forward legislation for the high-speed line into Manchester as soon as possible. With this will be the presentation of the one Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands. Mr Stephenson went on to say “The plan will examine how HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail can best work together, alongside wider investment in Transport for the North and the Midlands. To make sure people see the benefits of better services as quickly as possible.”
Now is the time to give the people of the north something to be proud of.