Pressure on rail network across the North highlights the need for new infrastructure

The experience of rail passengers in the North is today highlighted by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority as it makes the case for investment in the network in the short, medium and long term.

This summer, TransPennine Express reported that they were running at 102% of peak capacity into Leeds (July 2019) and despite some stability returning to the network,  an estimated 114 passengers are being left behind at stations every day on Northern services on the Calder Valley line between Leeds and Manchester due to overcrowding.

Recent figures reported to the Rail North Committee showed Northern had a public performance measure (PPM) of 79.4% over 28 days in July and August while for TransPennine Express it was 70.9%.

The latest research from think-thank IPPR North shows that transport spending has increased 2.5 times per person more in the capital compared to the North over the last decade. The Combined Authority’s own research shows if Government investment in transport and economic development had matched the rate of increase over the last four years of those areas with the greatest devolved powers, this would amount to an extra £810 million per year for Yorkshire and the Humber.

Without new infrastructure, including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, the new connections and additional capacity that the North desperately requires to allow the growing passenger numbers to travel by rail simply will not be possible.

At a Labour Party Conference fringe event later today, hosted in partnership with think-tank IPPR North, the Combined Authority will explore what more needs to be done to unlock the transformation in transport infrastructure the country desperately needs.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is a partner in the Connecting Britain campaign supporting the delivery of HS2 in full and integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport lead, said: “Britain needs, both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, with a line running through Bradford city centre, alongside investment in the East Coast Main Line and an upgraded trans-Pennine line to deliver the economic outcomes our region, the North and the UK, need to prosper in the decades ahead.

“Our plans show HS2, integrated with local transport at a transformed Leeds station, can deliver 40,000 additional jobs directly and a further 50,000 through productivity and regeneration benefits by 2050 in the Leeds City Region.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “Industry measures, which are disappointing enough, offer only a partial picture of the disruption to families and business caused by the poor performance of the rail network in the North.

“Good public transport links underpin a region’s economic prosperity and is key to tackling the climate emergency and improving air quality. We need to make sure that all of our communities have access to 21st Century transport connections to help rebalance the UK economy.

“The North will only have the modern reliable transport network it needs with investment in extra capacity and that includes HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail with a line through Bradford City Centre.”

The Transport Infrastructure Revolution: Why we need it and how we can get it takes place in the Gloucester Room, Hilton Brighton Metropole (inside the secure zone) at 12.30pm on Monday 23 September.

Find out more about the Connecting Britain campaign.