die belebende Bedenkung

Diggle your fiddle

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The discarded 'One North' vision of Northern powerhouse rail

More of the ‘Northern powerhouse rail vision’ seems to have gone missing, without explanation, sometime between the appearance of the Integrated Rail Report in June 2017, and the ‘final draft’ Strategic Transport Plan in 2019. (Plans for a Pennine ‘rolling motorway’ lorries-on-rail shuttle, included in the 2014 One North report, had vanished earlier.)

Northern powerhouse rail corridor options in final draft strategic transport plan, 2019

Unlike the Midlands Rail Hub, the 2019 Northern powerhouse rail options still include infrastructure dependencies with HS2, and fantastical sections of new-build track. However, the ‘corridor concepts under consideration’ now include a ‘Fiddlers Ferry upgrade’ (?) instead of a new high speed line into Liverpool, and ‘Diggle upgrades akin to a new line’ between Manchester and Leeds.

In other words, there is now a relatively ‘monkey dust free’ version of Northern powerhouse rail, in which there is no dependence on HS2, or billion-pound tunnels under Bradford.

Nevertheless. the underlying ‘thinking’ behind Northern powerhouse rail, is as daft as ever. There’s not going to be any sense in spending hundreds of millions of pounds to enable a handful of people to ‘commute from Leeds to Newcastle in 58 minutes’, or whatever. It might be a better use of public money to create a more useful ‘Northern counties rail’ network, fix potholes, develop safe cycling, etc.



Written by beleben

February 13, 2019 at 10:46 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

3 Responses

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  1. Who pays for the northern powerhouse partnership?


    February 13, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    • Your children, and your children’s children, and their children’s children…..


      February 14, 2019 at 8:37 am

  2. the trouble with this is there’s not enough emphasis on an engineering-led approach. Reopening Woodhead would be relatively easy and have a lot of benefits because it takes capacity of the Hope Valley and Diggle routes, and reopening the Partington-Cadishead bridge over the ship canal would also allow Liverpool->east of Pennines trains to bypass Manchester.

    Of course they’re not considering this because they’re trying to think of piecemeal upgrades to the existing routes in order to achieve largely arbitrary journey time upgrades, instead of thinking how making use of existing unutilised infrastructure (ie closed/freight only lines) could get where they want.

    Also, adding new lines instead of upgrading existing ones is a better policy because it brings more people within reach of rail links. Upgrading Hope Valley may be just as good for Manc-Sheffield traffic as reopening Woodhead, but the latter would bring people in Glossop, Hyde, and the upper Don valley within reach of a trans-pennine rail route, obviating their need to travel into Manc or Sheffield to catch a train (or, more likely, drive along the overused roads instead)


    February 13, 2019 at 6:25 pm

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