TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has today called on Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, to ‘deny or confirm, explain and justify’ media reports that the Government is planning to scrap key rail projects.
Reports over the weekend claimed that the Integrated Rail Plan, to be published by Ministers on Thursday, will see the Eastern Leg of HS2 – Birmingham to Leeds section – scrapped, and also the new Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) line.
In a letter to Shapps, Cortes says that if true it would be a ‘betrayal of northern towns, cities and multiple communities’, and would ‘leave a gaping hole in the claims of your government regarding ‘levelling-up’’.
In a stinging rebuke to apparent Ministerial thinking, Cortes goes on to say that in the light of the pandemic and ongoing climate change crisis ‘it would be idiocy and a dereliction of duty to abandon these projects’.
Cortes points out that the projects would provide many jobs and significant environmental benefits. He calls for them to be completed ‘in full’, with HS2 extended to Scotland in order to ‘reap the full benefits of a 21st Century high-speed rail network for Britain’.
The full letter to Grant Shapps follows here -
I’m writing following media reports over the weekend which claim that your department is going to scrap key rail infrastructure projects. I’m asking you to either deny this is the case or confirm, explain and justify it?
Reports yesterday in the i newspaper and elsewhere, claim that Thursday’s Integrated Rail Plan will scrap both the Birmingham to Leeds leg of HS2 and the new Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) line. Surely that can’t be right?
If this is true, it is a betrayal of northern towns, cities and multiple communities that would benefit so greatly from investment in high-speed rail. Dropping key parts of HS2 and NPR completely undermines the effectiveness of rail infrastructure investment programmes and would leave a gaping hole in the claims of your government regarding ‘levelling-up’.
I know you are well acquainted with the economic and environmental reasons for investing in rail. As we seek to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and meet the challenges of tackling climate change, investing in clean, integrated, high-speed rail infrastructure seems a gift to both the economy and our climate goals. It would be idiocy and a dereliction of duty to abandon these projects.
I hope that journalists have been ill informed and that you will be able to confirm that these vital rail infrastructure projects – and the jobs and environmental benefits that go along with them – will indeed be honoured and completed in full. Our union’s position remains that – far from cutting back HS2 – we believe HS2 should be built all the way to Scotland to reap the full benefits of a 21st Century high-speed rail network for Britain.
I look forward to hearing from you.