NORTHERN leaders have urged the Government to re-think their plans to scrap the Northern Powerhouse Rail line, and say they would be “letting down future generations” of Northerners if they accepted what Government had offered.

During a meeting of Transport for the North, leaders repeatedly mentioned how Bradford had been particularly hard done by in the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan.

Announced last week, the plan for the future of rail services in the North scrapped plans for the Northern Powerhouse Rail line – a high speed rail link between Hull and Liverpool. As recently as the Tory Party Conference, Boris Johnson had said he would “get Northern Powerhouse Rail” done.

The changes meant the hopes of a Bradford stop on the line, which would include a new station at the St James’ Market site, lay in tatters.

Instead there would be upgrades to existing lines.

At the TFN meeting on Wednesday, members passed a resolution urging Government to re-think its plans.

Members said the Government announcement was bad news for all areas of the North, but particularly Bradford and Hull.

Tim Foster, Interim Strategy and Programme Director, said: “There was significant disappointment in the levels of investment. A number of options appear to have been closed off. ”

Creating a new high speed line would have not only made journey times shorter, but would increase capacity on the rail network, allowing more freight to be transported via rail and a more reliable and regular train service – members were told.

Andy Burnham, Manchester Metro Mayor, said: “The East-West connectivity is the single biggest transport challenge in the country.

“Bradford is a proud Northern city – are we really saying we have no more ambition for it as a country than what has been put forward? If we are then it is a dreadful state of affairs.

“It is sending a message to people living in Bradford that they are not even second class citizens, as they are not even getting a downgrade of the plan, they are getting nothing.

“Our priority is to get a new line that goes through Bradford back on the table.

Rail plan slammed as a 'betrayal of Bradford'

“It would be fundamentally wrong to accept this plan. I don’t think we can admit defeat. To do so would be to sell out generations to come and accept a smaller economy for the North for the rest of our lives. It is about doing what is best for this part of the world – it deserves better than what has been put on the table.”

He said the Bradford stop would boost his area, as well as West Yorkshire.

Mr Burnham pointed out that despite Government investment in Manchester, a new stop at Manchester Airport would have to be paid for locally. He added: “Manchester Airport has said that if Bradford is on the line, then it would make the case for local contribution worthwhile.”

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin (Lab) said: “This Integrated Rail Plan is not integrated and it is not a plan. It is a betrayal of the pledge of levelling up West Yorkshire. It is building on existing Victorian Infrastructure and isn’t fit for the 21st Century.

“It is a betrayal the people of Bradford feel in particular. Bradford has been utterly disregarded by this plan, and the Government needs to think again.

“It is not acceptable to think we’ll roll over and accept this. You can’t leave out Bradford and then expect it to flourish and level up with the rest of the country. It is the city with the greatest opportunity for levelling up.”

Steve Rotherham (Lab), Mayor of Liverpool, said the decision to upgrade rail lines rather than build a new high speed rail line would cause disruption for up to a decade.

The impact of these disruptions could be so great that he suggested Liverpool might in fact be better off without any upgrades if they weren’t going to get the new rail line.

The panel put forward a motion saying the rail plan breached the commitment the Government made on Northern Powerhouse Rail. They plan to go back to Government and urge them to re-think the decision to scrap NPR.

Mr Burnham suggested a programme called “land value capture” could help fund parts of the rail development. Popular in other countries, it is a method of using the increased value of land that the new line would create to pay towards the scheme.

North Yorkshire Councillor Don Mackenzie (Cons) criticised other members for speaking out against the Government’s plan, saying: “If I was a member of the Department for Transport listening to all these well rehearsed political statements I’d want as little to do with this board as possible.”

He said the Government announcement benefitted his area and its residents in many ways.

Responding to the meeting Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “We welcome the outcomes of the Transport for the North board meeting today. Mayors and Leaders from across the North and across the political divide spoke up for Bradford. There is huge support in the North for a through station in Bradford city centre, which is connected to Leeds and Manchester. Government need to hear these Northern voices and act accordingly.

“We are bruised by the announcement last week, but we are not defeated. We will continue making the clear case for a through rail station in Bradford city centre, connecting us at greater speed to Leeds and Manchester, because we know this will unlock massive social, economic and environmental benefits for millions of people and thousands of companies across the whole of the north, and will achieve the transformation that our children and future generations truly deserve.

A city centre rail station has the potential to deliver 27,000 jobs and £30bn in economic benefits to the Bradford district over the next decade, as well as bringing 6.7 million people and an area of over £167bn of annual economic output to within a 35-minute journey of central Bradford.

“We are UK’s youngest city and we’ve larger population than Liverpool, Hull and Newcastle, so a well connected new station represents a unique and unrivalled opportunity to realise the potential of Britain’s seventh largest city.

“We are Britain’s biggest levelling up opportunity and we will continue with our plans for greater economic development and we are determined to become Britain’s leading clean growth city all this would be accelerated by the city centre station.

“We are continuing our work with partners to progress other projects and to attract the investment that will drive us towards fulfilling the same ambitious outcome of jobs, businesses and economic benefits for the district.”