LOCAL politicians have expressed anger after a report suggested the North could miss out on much needed rail infrastructure because London schemes were going over budget.

Last month the National Infrastructure Commission released its Rail Needs Assessment, a report that suggested long planned, much needed rail schemes in the North may not go ahead as hoped.

Two big projects are the Leeds leg of HS2, which would create a High Speed Rail link between the region and London, and Northern Powerhouse Rail, a High Speed line that would link the East Coast and West Coast, including a stop in Bradford.

The Rail Needs Assessment suggests that prioritising local rail links would have a greater benefit for the North - and that it was unlikely that there would be funding for both High Speed rail links to go ahead.

Late last week the report was discussed by both West Yorkshire Combined Authority, made up of five local Councils, and Transport for the North - which includes representatives from local government and business across the North of the country.

Both groups made similar points - that both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail were needed if the Government were to fulfil its promise to “level up” the country.

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They criticised the report for suggesting that the North should have to choose between the two major projects.

Members of Transport for the North claimed the reduced scope was due to the London leg of HS2 running over budget. Tim Foster, head of Strategy, said: “It has left the North and the Midlands acting as a shock barrier.

“NPR and HS2 need to be delivered alongside each other.”

Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Region Mayor, said: “I hoe the Government will reject this Rail Needs Assessment. Investment in the North for generations to come should not be based on the flawed methodology of this report. The report presents these schemes as competing rather than being different sides of the same coin.”

Councillor Darren Hale, Deputy Leader of Hull Council, said: “This would be robbing money from these schemes to shore up the Midlands and the South. We will be judged by what happens with this, it will be a Beeching moment if we are not careful.”

He was referring to the shake up of the British rail network, proposed by Richard Beeching, that led to swathes of stations and lines being decommissioned.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said London and the South East were constantly getting the better deals while the North was asked to scrimp and save.” He added: “History will not judge us kindly if we went quietly and started to accept our fate.”

Hans Mundry, from Warrington Council, said: “How does ‘Levelling up’ by taking money from the North to pay for schemes in the South make any sense?”

Leader of Leeds Council Judith Blake said: “What has disappointed me most about this report is it is going back to “either/or” - something we’ve tried to get away from.”

Mark Rawstron, representing Lancashire, said: “People are saying this report is disappointing. I’d go further than disappointing - I was angry when I read it.”

The board agreed to write to the Government to suggest that the suggestions made in the report be scrapped, and that the full plans for HS2, NPR and other rail improvements in the North move ahead.

The report was discussed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee on Friday.

At that meeting Mark Roberts, representing the private sector on the committee, said: “It seems like we are being asked to make a choice between HS2 and NPR, it seems like the North is being asked to solve problems caused by an overspend in London. Businesses in the region feel very strongly about this.”

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds Council's Executive for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said: "We need to firm up capacity locally as well as getting long distance links.

"It shouldn't be a choice for the region, we deserve this investment."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It is necessary that Ministers take the time to consider these recommendations in full, and we therefore expect to publish the Integrated Rail Plan in early 2021.”