Today the government have finally given the green light to the HS2 rail line. We desperately need a new north-south mainline railway in the UK and this crucial investment has been held back by dithering and delays for too long. It was first announced by the last Labour government in 2009 so this is long overdue.
When this rail link is delivered alongside other rail projects in the North, it will deliver badly needed capacity on our rail network, improve connectivity across our country, and help the environment by taking freight and polluting vehicles off our roads.
We have seen no major new lines since the Victorian era, and large parts of the network are bursting at the seams. The East Coast Mainline is highly-congested, and not fit for modern Britain. The single track line from Newcastle to York is in dire need of a major upgrade.
HS2 has to be part of a wider package of rail investment, including Northern Powerhouse Rail – the east-west connectivity linking Liverpool to Hull and up to Newcastle – and upgrades to the East Coast Mainline. Today in the House of Commons I told the Prime Minister the Newcastle to York section of the East Coast line needs major investment and that he should deliver this immediately so our region is ready for HS2 and NPR.
Taken together, these projects would be transformational for the North East economy and I’ll be holding the government’s feet to the fire to ensure they do deliver for our region. Further delays will leave our region even more cut off from the rest of the country.