Successful completion of Northern Powerhouse Rail is reliant on the full completion of HS2, a parliamentary committee has been told.
LGC’s sister title Construction News reports Lord Sharkey (Lib Dem), of the Lords economic affairs committee, asked transport and local authority representatives if Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) would still work if HS2 is not fully implemented.
West Yorkshire CA managing director Ben Still said: “Through these programmes to rectify decades of under-investment in the north of England, strong and efficient north-south routes are required, as are better east-west routes.”
Lord Sharkey then pressed further and asked: “Can the Northern Powerhouse Rail actually work in any real sense without HS2?”
“No is the answer,” Mr Still said.
Transport for the North (TfN) chief executive Barry White said: “Because the government has committed to HS2, we have planned on the basis of HS2 being delivered and therefore to make best value for money proposals we have used spare capacity and tracks where available to make what we think is a very sensible proposition for Northern Powerhouse Rail, so we are reliant on HS2 to that extent.”
Mr White then stated it could be possible for an east-west link to be built without HS2, however it would not give users as many benefits.
“Both [routes] working together gives a greater frequency of service and actually uses capacity that’s there already,” he said.
The committee also asked what the contingency plan was if HS2 does not reach full completion.
TfN’s Northern Powerhouse rail director Tim Wood said: “If [TransPennine and HS2 are] not completed then what we will do is look at the evidence … we’d review that then go back to our members.”
But Lord Forsyth (Con), the chair of the committee, said: “There’s no plan B because in order to make plan B you need plan A. The answer to [the committee’s] question is there is no plan B.”
Last week former executive director at the Strategic Rail Authority Chris Stokes told the same committee that there is “probably close to zero chance” HS2 can be built within its £56bn budget without changes to its scope.
HS2 Ltd has said it is driving efficiencies in order to deliver the project within that budget.