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Labour responds to the Prime Minister’s Manchester-Leeds Rail Route Announcement

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Manchester-Leeds Rail Route, said “This project has been announced time and time again by the Conservatives. With Boris Johnson’s staggering failure to build a bridge across the Thames and an estuary airport I’m not confident he’ll be able to deliver better train services between Leeds and Manchester.

“What we really need is Labour’s Crossrail for the North, from Liverpool to Hull and up to the North East to unleash the economic potential of the region. Just upgrading the rail between Leeds and Manchester – the same distance as the Central line on the London Underground – won’t achieve that. I want that to start now, with improvements that can happen in the short term, not just big engineering schemes that will take years.”

Rachael Maskell MP, Shadow Transport Minister, said ‘sadly nothing has changed’, she added “It’s quite embarrassing the Prime Minister had to ask people to applaud his announcement of a faster line between Leeds and Manchester. It’s quite clear the northern audience know that it’s not even a half measure and not worth clapping. Council leaders, Mayors, businesses and Transport for the North all want Labour’s Crossrail for the North from Liverpool to Hull and upto the North East, as we promised in our last manifesto, to truly unleash the economic potential of the North.

“This is sadly once again another Tory Prime Minister coming to the North with nothing new. There is no timeline, no linking of northern towns, just more vague promise of a skeleton line, and a rehash of the insulting level of investment for the region that Theresa May tried and failed to bribe Labour MPs with a few months ago.

“Instead of backing Labour’s Crossrail for the North, Johnson is offering a cheapskate refurb of existing lines. There is no timeline on delivery.

“Labour will bring proper investment to the north, prioritising connectivity for rail across the North and putting in vital infrastructure to attract the economic investment for northern towns and cities. A properly integrated rail system can only be delivered under Labour’s publicly owned rail service not the fragmented system this government backs.

“Boris Johnson failed to answer key questions today such as whether he’ll reverse the decision not to electrify the Trans Pennine Rail line and whether it will be upgraded for freight.

“Boris Johnson is pretending he’s interested in the North after decades of Tory neglect, but sadly, this speech shows that nothing has changed once again”.