die belebende Bedenkung

The unshared priority

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The Transport Select Committee’s call for written evidence about the government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the North and Midlands apparently yielded a total of 95 submissions (although some contributors made more than one submission).

It was curious to see the Department for Transport’s own submission, belatedly making the case for doing less high speed rail.

[31.] “Significant criticism has been made of the Government’s decision not to include within the IRP a high-speed line between Bradford and Manchester, at an additional cost of around £18 billion. In the 2011 census, the working population of Bradford was 210,000 people. Of these,155,000 worked in Bradford itself, 27,500 in Leeds, and 13,400 in the rest of West Yorkshire. But only 650 people from Bradford (0.3%) worked in Manchester, of whom 105 travelled by train. Even if better rail links resulted in, say, a twenty-fold increase in commuting from Bradford to Manchester, this would still be only around 6 per cent of Bradford’s commuter population.”

DfT submission to the Transport Select Committee IRP inquiry | Jan 2022
Nomis travel to work data, 2011 census,  Bradford

[34.] “The Government notes that while political leaders in Leeds, Liverpool and Bradford criticised the IRP for not doing more high-speed rail, the leaders of smaller places – such as Rotherham, Wakefield and Doncaster – were more welcoming to the plan. It is also clear from opinion polling done after the publication of the IRP that the public in the North and Midlands does not share the priority given to high-speed rail by some stakeholders. By around six to one, people prioritise improvements to local rail and bus services over improvements to long-distance rail” (YouGov, 29 November 2021).

DfT submission to the Transport Select Committee IRP inquiry | Jan 2022

[51.] “[…] On NPR, the Government carefully examined the other options put forward by TfN, for full newbuild lines from Liverpool to Leeds via Manchester and Bradford. TfN’s preferred option represented poor value for money. It would have made Manchester – Leeds journeys only four minutes faster than the option chosen in the IRP, and cost an extra £18 billion.”

DfT submission to the Transport Select Committee IRP inquiry | Jan 2022

The problem, for the government, in deploying these sorts of arguments is that they are also valid against the sections of high speed railway which (it says) it remains committed to building — such as the western leg of HS2, and the ‘Manchester to Marsden’ remnant of ‘HS3’ Northern powerhouse rail.

Written by beleben

February 4, 2022 at 8:27 pm

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