Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, welcomes Northern Transport Strategy but calls for a commitment on funding.
Speaking in response to the publication of Northern Transport Strategy, Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee said:
"I welcome the Northern Transport Strategy but I am concerned that there is no commitment to funding. Ministers must clarify when there will be real improvements to overcrowded and slow rail services between our major northern cities. Transport for the North must be clear that the proposals to "simplify" rail fares in the north will not be used as a way of increasing fares by the back door—as proposed last year in the consultation on the Northern Rail franchise.
I am pleased that the Government has accepted the Transport Committee’s repeated recommendations for greater integration between HS2 and the conventional rail network; and for route-based transport strategies that address all modes of travel. Today’s announcement is a sign that the Government accepted that this approach will bring the maximum benefits for rail passengers, motorists and for freight.
I welcome the move to greater devolution but Ministers must clarify how the new arrangements will ensure that the needs of the city regions don't dominate and obscure the needs of smaller towns and rural areas that also need the economic benefits of improved transport.
East-West connectivity by road and rail is not just an issue in the North: as motorists and rail passengers in the Midlands and East Anglia know all too well. As my Committee has recommended, the Government must make clear how it will improve east-west connectivity across the country."
Recommendation 19 of the Transport Committee’s Investing in the railway Report, published on 23 January 2015, stated:
"We welcome the proposals to improve East-West connectivity. We call for clarity on whether these proposals will be truly East-West: extending from Hull to Liverpool, with the benefits that would bring for freight and passenger rail. It is also not at all clear whether these proposals—HS3 as the Chancellor has referred to them—will entail a new line or improvements to existing lines. The Department should clarify this point, and also make clear what long-term objectives it has for improving East-West connectivity across the country."