Liz Truss is ‘absolutely committed’ to Northern Powerhouse Rail.


iz Truss has announced it is “absolutely committed” to building the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and wants “truly outstanding rail services” in the north.

The Conservative leadership candidate told reporters in Leeds that she knew “how bad the transport situation is” in the city.

The NPR is a scheme to improve rail links between Liverpool and Leeds.

Transport for the North, which advises the government on the region’s transport needs, recommended that new lines be built between the cities.

But the government’s integrated rail plan sparked outrage among northern leaders in November last year when it revealed a new line would only be built on one section, with existing lines added to the rest of the route.

Liz Truss said ‘What I want to see is really great rail services’ (Carlos Jasso/PA) / PA Wire

Ms Truss said she was “absolutely committed” to NPR.

She continued: “What I am committing to today is the Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“I grew up in Leeds, I know how bad the transport is and to be honest it’s not much better than when I was a teenager getting the bus into Leeds city centre.

“What I want to see is really great rail services, better roads so people can get to work.

“I also want to stop militant action by trade unions, so that hard-working people who do the right thing can go to work, set up businesses and help grow our economy.”

Ms Truss did not elaborate on whether she would support rebuilding the NPR along new lines if she became prime minister.

She said she would not commit to overturning the decision to scrap the eastern leg of HS2 between the East Midlands and Leeds.

It comes a day after the Commons’ Transport Select Committee published a report calling for a “reconsideration” of decisions on the Integrated Rail Plan to avoid “missing opportunities”.

Asked how she would afford the NPR, given the tax cuts, Ms Truss said: “The tax cuts I’m making are affordable in our budget.

“What I’m setting out is an economic growth plan. The reality is that we’ve had very little growth for decades now, and by creating new low-tax investment zones in places like West Yorkshire, post-Brexit. By enabling reforms, by drawing more investment out of the city, we’ll grow. The economy will grow faster – more tax revenue will come in, and that will enable us to afford these projects.

“I also think that the funding formula has been unfair in places like Leeds and places like Yorkshire, so I will set the Treasury funding formula to ensure that this part of the country are getting a greater share of government resources because, frankly, transport is much better in London and the South East than it is here in Leeds, and I will fix that.

Responding to his comments on NPR, Henry Morrison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a network of business and civic leaders, said: “The outgoing Prime Minister broke her promises to the North when she published the Integrated Rail Plan.

“This will bring back the Government’s support for the original Northern Powerhouse vision of a single trip working area in the Pennines, increasing productivity to secure UK plc’s growth.

“Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister should build a new line from Manchester, connecting the airport to Bradford, with services to Leeds.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Hague accused Mrs Truss of offering only “weasel words” on the delivery of new lines.

He said: “The two continuity candidates on whether they will promise new lines show they are just offering more of the same.

“Only a Labor government will fully deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2, build infrastructure fit for the 21st century, and give Britain the fresh start it needs.”