'This will not derail us': Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham reacts to scrapping of HS2

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has called out the Prime Minister for 'not consulting' Northern leaders in the decision to scrap HS2 to Manchester.

Mr Burnham claimed Conservative promises to the North of England were simply about winning votes, adding the axing of HS2 to the North would not solve North-South or East-West capacity problems on the railways.

In a press conference at the Museum of Science and Industry, Mr Burnham said: “There’s a world of difference between a transport plan patched together in hotel rooms at a party conference with no input with Northern leaders or Mayors.

"And a transport plan that’s been worked on for years by Northern leaders and Mayors, with Transport for the North, which is a coherent plan representing the voice of the North and what people here want.

“What’s been announced at conference today is not that coherent plan.”

He said the announced plans do 'not make any logical sense' as they do not address the issue of bottlenecks and lack of capacity on the railway network, which covers from Liverpool in the West to Hull in the East.

Adding that the current plans also do not solve the problems of capacity on the railways running North-South from Manchester to Birmingham and London, Mr Burnham said: "I think this city region deserves more respect than it was given."

Mr Burnham, speaking at the site of the terminus of the world’s first inter-city passenger railway, between Liverpool and Manchester, said: “We really did give passenger rail, commuter rail, to the world.

"You may remember, almost 10 years ago, George Osborne came to the building just beyond here to tap into that spirit that the north of England had in the nineteenth century of pioneering and bringing new developments to the world.

Former Chancellor George Osborne created the idea of the Northern Powerhouse Rail.

"To say that he would bring forward a northern powerhouse that would be all about that ambition again for Britain, bringing north-south lines with HS2, east-west with HS3 as he called it then, that obviously became northern powerhouse rail.

“You name it, we were getting it all.

"It’s hard not to feel that ten years on from that announcement the Conservative Party have not shown the courage, the conviction or the capability to turn those statements into reality, to the great frustration of the people here.

“Does this country have the will, within it, to actually prioritise the North of England?”

During his landmark speech at the Conservative Party conference, Mr Sunak said scrapping the Northern leg of HS2 was “the right thing to do” as he pledged the £36 billion of savings will fund hundreds of other transport schemes.

In its place, Mr Sunak proposed a new 'Network North' which he said would bring a wide array of benefits for transport in the North of England.

Transport for the North have also responded to the proposition, Chairman Lord McLoughlin said: “The cancelling of the Northern leg of HS2 is naturally disappointing.

"It’s undeniable that this will be seen by many as a missed opportunity for the region, and the country as a whole.

Lord McLoughlin responded to the decision to scrap the Northern leg of HS2. Credit: Transport for the North

"Only last week, Northern business and political leaders came together at our TfN Board to speak with ‘one voice’ to reaffirm our position that HS2 and NPR in full are vital to truly transform the North.

He continued: "There are still quite a few areas that require further clarification from the Department for Transport, which we will be seeking from them.”

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