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Northern Hub scheme funding is now in doubt
A huge funding gap threatens a £560m project to deliver faster trains to Bradford and across the North, rail chiefs have revealed.
Now the fate of the vital Northern Hub scheme hangs in the balance, with a decision from the Office of Rail Regulation due on October 31.
The revelation – from the outgoing boss of Network Rail – surprised and alarmed MPs who believed the project was moving ahead, with Government support.
Graham Stringer, a Labour MP on the Commons transport committee, said he had written to the ORR, urging it not to pull the plug.
The Northern Hub is a hugely-ambitious project to increase train services, cut journey times and electrify lines across the North.
Bradford is among the cities due to benefit, from putting Manchester just 50 minutes away – a ten-minute reduction – and with direct journeys to Manchester Airport.
George Osborne has handed the project a total of £215m – and full approval was granted over a year ago – apparently putting it track.
But, at a meeting of the Commons transport committee, Network Rail’s chief executive told MPs that negotiations were going down to the wire.
Sir David Higgins said that, of the £1.4bn potential shortfall, £560m was for “major projects” – exactly matching the bill for the Northern Hub.