“HUGE QUESTIONS LEFT UNANSWERED”
Published 5 October 2023 at 1:07pm
South Yorkshire's Mayor Oliver Coppard said:
I'm deeply concerned. The Prime Ministers announcement to scrap HS2 creates huge uncertainty for transport plans across South Yorkshire and the rest of the north.
New promises with very little clarity about how or when money will be made available. Projects and priorities were chosen with no consultation: a new shopping list created but no details of how it will check out.
The precedent is that the Government don’t deliver for the North. How can we trust this new plan? Since 2019 alone we have been promised HS2 in full, Northern Powerhouse Rail in Full, an Integrated Rail Plan, a London Style Transport System and Levelling-Up.
Following the PM’s HS2 announcement, every single one of those promises has been thrown into chaos, whilst failing to solve a single problem today.
To have any confidence in the Government’s plan, I'm calling for immediate clarity on these key questions:
- South Yorkshire's most pressing priority is bus funding. Over the last decade 40% of bus routes have been lost in South Yorkshire. We have made that problem clear to government repeatedly, yet yesterday's announcement comes with no commitment to increased funding for bus services in the short term. What do the government intend to do about the crisis in bus funding immediately?
- With HS2 now scrapped 'in full', when will the blight on properties in South Yorkshire be lifted? At what date will families living on or near the planned route have legal certainty about future plans?
- The Prime Minister has said yesterday's decision will allow us to 'quadruple' services between Sheffield and Leeds. That would mean up to 20 services per hour, one every 3 minutes. When will this be in place, and where is the business case that supports this decision? What does this mean for the 'Leeds Area Study'?
- When the Eastern Leg of HS2 was scrapped, we were promised HS2 trains would still run to South Yorkshire, albeit not on HS2 tracks. That promise was reiterated in July of this year. Is that commitment still in place? Given that it does not require new HS2 tracks, if not, why not?
- What is the cost of the Hope Valley upgrade? When will it be delivered? Will it allow us to reinstate services to Manchester Airport? How will congestion in Manchester be managed, in a way that allows South Yorkshire to fully utilise greater capacity? Where is the business case that supports this decision?
- What is the cost of reopening the Don Valley line, and when will the project be developed, permissioned and delivered? Restoring your Railways was announced by Government in 2020, how many projects have been delivered or are even in delivery? We have asked to run tram-trains on that line, a plan supported by Network Rail. Is the government intending to run heavy rail or light rail on that route?
- There was no funding announced yesterday for regional airports, despite the government saying they were responding to local priorities. Was funding for our plans to reopen DSA considered?
- The plan announced yesterday was called 'Network North' but included plans for Tavistock, in Cornwall. The 'Network North' plan also included a commitment to spend £2.8 billion on fixing potholes in the East, South East and South West. As a percentage, how much of the money 'saved' by scrapping the northern part of HS2 will be spent outside of the north?
- Will northern transport authorities be asked to follow the wasteful process of competing against one another for any new pots of funding, or projects? If so, when will the rules be announced?
- You can’t spend billions of pounds without worked up plans. The government has cancelled one plan. When will it bring forward its next? We have no details on any of the schemes in SY.
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