Bradford Council is refusing to back the controversial HS2 high speed rail scheme.
Authority chiefs have raised concerns about key aspects of the Government’s £46 billion scheme and will be meeting HS2 officials in the spring to discuss them face-to-face.
In its official response to the HS2 consultation, which closed yesterday, the Council says its concerns include:
- no clear benefit to Bradford’s economy, despite analysis saying it would give West Yorkshire a £1bn annual boost
- the building of a separate railway station in Leeds for HS2, meaning a “lengthy interchange” on foot between the two for passengers which would cancel out any journey time savings for Bradford residents and businesses
- value for money: the authority thinks the same improvements could be delivered at less cost by investing in the existing East Cast Mainline.
It says: “Overall the Council is currently not in a position to support the HS2 proposals until it clearly understands what the benefits will be to the district.”
The authority also calls for investment in the conventional rail network to continue as HS2 is developed, including the replacement of West Yorkshire’s “ancient rolling stock” of trains and the electrification of the Calder Valley line.
Wakefield Council has also opposed the plans, while Leeds City Council remains supportive.
Bradford Council leader David Green, said: “We are sceptical about the High Speed Rail HS2 proposal because we have yet to see conclusive proof of direct benefit to Bradford district. HS2 would have to be matched with significant investment in regional and local infrastructure to spread and maximise benefits across the region.
“Our priority is investment in regional rail infrastructure to help free up capacity on our current railway network and reduce overcrowding on commuter train services.”
The Council’s Conservative leader, Councillor Glen Miller, said while his group had not been asked to contribute to the response, he too had concerns about HS2.
He said: “We don’t need to get from Leeds to London 20 minutes sooner. What we need to do is get from Skipton or Keighley quicker, and on trains that are neat and tidy.”
But Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “Bradford would be foolish to turn its nose up at what will be the biggest capital project in the country. They will do a disservice to the young people who need work.”