LEADERS of local Councils have pleaded with Government to “break the cycle of broken promises” when it comes to investing in the North’s rail infrastructure.

Earlier this month the National Infrastructure Commission suggested that rail investment should be focused on boosting mainline services across the North and the Midlands - rather than the full eastern leg of High Speed 2 to Leeds.

The main local link that would benefit Bradford is Northern Powerhouse Rail, a high speed line linking Liverpool and Hull, with a proposed stop in the centre of Bradford.

Yesterday West Yorkshire Combined Authority, made up of the region’s five local Councils, wrote to the Government to say the Commission’s findings presented an “artificial choice” - and that if the Government was serious about levelling up the North it would support both schemes. To not do so would have “severe economic consequences.”

In a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the Combined Authority asks the Government to use its forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands to make good its commitment to delivering the eastern leg of HS2 in full and on the same timescale as the western leg.

Fears over Northern Powerhouse Rail if eastern leg of HS2 is not delivered

The Plan should also commit to delivering improved capacity around Leeds Station, the Transpennine line upgrade, Northern Powerhouse Rail in full including a new line between Leeds, Bradford City Centre and Manchester along with a programme of electrification of existing lines.

Many of the region’s rail capacity issues are linked with inadequate platform sizes at Leeds station - which impacts services in Bradford and across West Yorkshire.

The letter rejects the findings of the National Infrastructure Commission’s recent Rail Needs Assessment as based on an “inconsistent and fundamentally flawed” approach and warns that following its recommendations could have serious economic consequences.

It says the National Infrastructure Commission’s approach creates an “artificial choice” between HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, ignores the role HS2 will play in improving connections between Yorkshire’s cities, fails to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and does not address the capacity bottlenecks around Leeds Station which cause delays across the national rail network.

The letter further warns that continued uncertainty on HS2 will “damage business confidence and blight development while doing nothing to accelerate delivery of other schemes which will take up to a decade to reach the same point. A clear decision would allow enabling works for the eastern leg of HS2 to begin in 2024.”

It adds: “The Government has a choice to make, it can make a choice to tackle climate change, to unlock economic growth, to bridge the productivity gaps and to level up. Or the Government can once again leave our region and other authorities in the North behind.”