die belebende Bedenkung

All we want to-do

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Leeds town hall (Beleben archive)David Brown, leader of Transport for the North (TfN), and Alex Hynes, head of Northern Rail, have agreed that the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises will not provide the “transformational transport infrastructure” needed to make the North of England “one of the best regions in the world”.

[North franchises ‘will not deliver transformational infrastructure’, Rail Technology Magazine, 26 February 2016]

Speaking at the Northern Powerhouse Conference yesterday, attended by RTM, Hynes added: “Someone described it to me the other day: all we want to do is travel across as fast as we can travel down.

“That implies a journey time between Leeds and Manchester of 30 minutes, which is not going to be delivered by any of the current rail schemes which are funded, which is why we have to work together and say: if we’re going to place a value on the gap in wealth and living standards between the north and the south, then we have to do something big and we have to do something different.”

Asked what this big solution would be, the Northern Rail MD said the north should focus on what outcomes it wants to deliver rather than concentrate on the specifics.

[…] Brown, who is currently leading the development of a final plan for TfN, said: “We have a lot of full trains at the moment. We’re going to roll out some longer trains and some newer trains, which gives us some breathing space for seven to nine years. By the end of this franchise, they’ll probably be full again.

“You can keep making them a bit quicker and slightly longer, but at some point, that stops – and therefore, if you want to build more capacity between two key points, you’ll need a new line.”

Why there is such a to-do about ‘a 30 minute journey time between Manchester and Leeds’, remains as unclear as ever. TfN seems to be going up a cul-de-sac of its own making.

Written by beleben

March 3, 2016 at 3:15 pm

4 Responses

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  1. A 30 minute journey between Manchester Victoria and Leeds (both are through stations, unlike Piccadilly) would bring the rail networks of Lancs and Yorks half an hour time-nearer each other: an economic step change across the North.
    As HS2 can’t do this, someone needs to tell Mr Osborne that the keys to his powerhouse are still in Whitehall.

    Michael Wand

    March 3, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    • A 30-minute Manchester to Leeds journey is ‘transformative’, but a 40-minute one isn’t? A 20-minute Liverpool to Manchester journey is ‘transformative’, but a 32 minute one isn’t? I don’t buy any of this.

      There is, in my opinion, no way of justifying spending billions of pounds speeding up what are actually very small numbers of journeys.

      There would seem to be a much better case for a Leeds RER, and a 21st century Picc-Vic in Manchester, than there is for HS3 (or whatever it’s called this week).


      March 3, 2016 at 6:03 pm

  2. My take is that a big northern jobs-generator cannot emerge with the current obstacles to it: no single city there is big enough to become a ‘powerhouse’ on its own, the existing rail infrastructure (likewise Leeds-Bradford Airport) is not fit for regional purpose, the Pennines sit in the way of local economies becoming time-nearer and HS2 is not relevant to the northern task. Meanwhile London, with its radial commuter lines and more than three international airports, is bursting at the seams and attracts H M Treasury infrastructure investment on the grounds of ‘need’. So a travel time transformation between the city centres of East Lancs and West Yorks is worth proper evaluation.

    Michael Wand

    March 6, 2016 at 9:31 pm

  3. […] rail schemes have received extensive coverage on the Beleben blog. And a few weeks ago, this blog pointed out that Transport for the North seemed be going up a cul-de-sac of its own […]

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