Greens say the Government’s announcements on rail for the North and Midlands demonstrate a lack of strategic planning on public transport.
In response to the cancellation of the eastern leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds, Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer said,
“The Green Party has opposed the expensive HS2 project, while calling for investment in local and regional transport infrastructure, particularly in the North, Midlands and South West of England.
“The UK is being left with the expensive and most ecologically damaging first phase of HS2, which risks turning Birmingham into part of the London commuter belt, without any of the originally touted benefits of providing better connections in the North of England. I am worried that this announcement is the worst of both worlds."
At the same time as announcing upgrades to existing lines, the Government has decided to scrap Northern Powerhouse Rail, backtracking on promises made for cities and towns in the North.
Bradford Green Party councillor Matt Edwards said,
“The fact that the government has ruled out a proper new high-speed Transpennine rail line through Bradford - because it would ‘only’ make a journey from Manchester to Leeds four minutes faster - shows they have completely missed the point.
“As rail in the North goes, those two cities are pretty well connected. Northern Powerhouse Rail was about delivering really transformational change to other cities – especially Bradford. You wouldn’t think Bradford was the seventh biggest city in the country by looking at this announcement from the Department of Transport.
“Despite the government’s spin, this isn't levelling up, it is another betrayal of people across the North of England. A betrayal of the people of Bradford and a betrayal of people living every other city being shunned today.”
Greens are now calling for the improvements to existing local railway lines that will replace the eastern leg of HS2 to be integrated into a wider strategy for transport in this climate emergency.
Carla Denyer added, “Greens have long called for improvements to journey times, frequencies and capacity of rail services in all regions of England and in Wales.
"But a transport revolution to tackle the climate crisis and air pollution must also focus on less glamorous localised investments, particularly in infrastructure to make cycling and walking safer and more convenient, and in frequent and affordable local bus services.”