One North – improving rail or cutting services?

It’s easy to assume that the authors of the recent One North report see the value in local rail links.

After all, the centrepiece of the report is a new trans-Penine rail link from Liverpool, Manchester City Centre and Manchester airport in the west to Newcastle, Leeds, Hull and Sheffield in the east. And the report makes frequent mention of the importance of the rail network in the area for both commuting and freight.

However there is a hidden sting for people who actually use existing rail services.

HS2 is a central part of this proposition for the North…. Planning the best overall arrangement involves examining all of the rail service requirements together. In some locations, existing capacity constraints might be overcome by developing new arrangements to reduce the number of local trains terminating in central stations – a potentially expensive use of crucial platform capacity that could be freed up for HS2 trains.

A report that promises to improve rail connections, that talks about commuting is willing to sacrifice local connections used by people to get to work or for leisure, for the sake of the shiny white elephant that is HS2.

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