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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Greens call for commitment to increased electrification and regional connectivity

In its response to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) rail assessment commission for the North and Midlands, the Yorkshire and Humber Green Party has raised concerns about the “the lack of commitment to tackling net-zero emissions on our railways”.

With work now underway to build Phase 1 of HS2 (to Birmingham), and plans being drawn up to start Phase 2a (to Crewe), the government has said it “will draw up an Integrated Rail Plan for the Midlands and the North which is framed by the government’s commitment to bring forward transformational rail improvements along the HS2 route as quickly as possible.

“This work will be informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) looking at the rail needs of the Midlands and the North, and the available evidence on Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub, HS2 Phase 2b and other proposed Network Rail projects.”

The Yorkshire and Humber Green Party has stated: “We do not see how the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) can recommend investment priorities for the north without addressing the central issue of decarbonisation head on”.

In its submission to the NIC, which will advise government on the investment priorities for rail in the north before HS2 is operational in the region, the regional Green Party stresses that the decarbonisation challenges are a central issue for the current review, which needs a major rethink on electrification. The NIC review.

It also highlights the importance of investing in improved regional connectivity within the Yorkshire and Humber region before the arrival of HS2. It stresses that switching more goods from road to rail is a priority and will significantly reduce carbon emissions, but this would also need an increase in capacity for rail freight.

“In the post Covid-19 Britain, HS2 is not an appropriate choice for economic stimulus, as it will not deliver benefits until the 2030s and 2040s,” said Martin Hemingway, Green Party regional coordinator.

“Conversely, the priorities identified in our submission not only address the challenge of reducing carbon emissions from transport but would contribute to our quality of life and sustainable economy in the 2020s and 2030s.

“Our priorities are informed by a desire for better regional connectivity to be delivered through rapid transit in the Leeds City Region, improvements to East West routes and enhanced capacity and recognised pathways for rail freight, particularly to and from the Humber ports. Commitment to rail electrification and regional connectivity is more important to Yorkshire than HS2”

The Oakervee review into the HS2 project concluded that, for Phase 2b of HS2 (the route from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds), a Y-shaped network was the right strategic answer for the country.

However, the review also concluded that Phase 2b needs to be considered as part of an Integrated Rail Plan for the north and Midlands which also includes Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub, and other major Network Rail schemes to ensure these are scoped, designed, delivered, and can be operated as an integrated network.

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