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New rail minister raises hopes high-speed line may include Bradford | Rail transport

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Hopes {that a} deliberate northern high-speed railway line could embrace Bradford in spite of everything have been raised after the brand new rail minister mentioned he was nonetheless “engaged on choices” to hyperlink within the metropolis.

Huw Merriman mentioned he was “dedicated to native session” and “enthusiastic about delivering higher companies” to Bradford, whose removing from the longer term high-speed rail map final 12 months provoked uproar within the north.

Nonetheless, he added that the choice would stay in Treasury fingers, with supporters of infrastructure initiatives together with HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) fearing additional cuts in subsequent week’s spending evaluate underneath the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.

The destiny of the NPR line has been mired in confusion within the 12 months because the authorities appeared to tear up the plans agreed by northern leaders in its built-in rail plan.

Final month, Liz Truss, throughout her tenure as prime minister, reaffirmed a marketing campaign dedication to construct the road in full, together with a cease in Bradford. Nonetheless, she left workplace earlier than her feedback may very well be absolutely clarified and final week the previous transport secretary, Grant Shapps, now enterprise secretary, mentioned there “wasn’t actually a lot level” in constructing NPR in full.

Merriman instructed the Rail Trade Affiliation convention in London that Rishi Sunak, now prime minister, had over the summer season “talked about choices for an evaluation for Bradford, and that’s the work I’m doing proper now”.

“He mentioned we’re going to work up choices and see what we are able to do, and that’s what I’ve been doing during the last week or two – to see what they’re and if it’s one thing we are able to really proceed with,” Merriman mentioned.

He added: “After all the Liz Truss plan was a really totally different plan from that which was printed and from what Rishi Sunak has mentioned. However I’m committing to making sure that native leaders can be consulted. I need to be certain that we’ve the enterprise case assessed, and look once more.

“I’m enthusiastic about delivering higher companies to attach our cities collectively, and Bradford is an efficient instance – I actually need to see the regeneration of Bradford.”

Henri Murison, chief govt of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, mentioned he welcomed Merriman’s appointment and feedback, including: “Whether or not or not you help a full high-speed line by means of Bradford to Manchester, a brand new station right here is sensible. The built-in rail plan shouldn’t be a reputable path to proceed on.

“We hope the brand new rail minister will attain a extra wise place as a result of, between the U-turns and flip-flops, we have to make some progress.”

Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, joined native leaders in Bradford on Thursday to focus on the deserves of a brand new station. She mentioned: “A misplaced decade of damaged Tory guarantees has left the north with second-rate infrastructure, and rail companies in disaster, holding the financial system again.”

Haigh accused Sunak of making ready to “abandon NPR on the first alternative”, including: “Labour will ship this transformational mission in full.”

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