A committee on transport called for the government to reassess its plans for rail investment in the North yesterday.

The report says alternative options that could transform stations and city centres in key Northern cities have not been properly tested.

The committee urged that a thorough reassessment of the government’s integrated rail plan is essential to ensure this once-in-a-generation investment in rail is not a missed opportunity to address regional imbalances.

The committee called for a full analysis of the wider economic impacts, and a full benefit-cost ratio, for the different Northern Powerhouse Rail options.

If the results demonstrate other options offer better value and outcomes for the taxpayer, economy and the communities directly impacted, MPs say the government ‘must grasp the nettle’ and make the necessary changed.

Committee chair, Huw Merriman MP, said: "The Prime Minister promised that he would, with Northern Powerhouse Rail, do for the North what he did for Londoners with Crossrail.

"Instead, much of the track will be an upgrade of existing line.

"The business case of HS2 was based on it going east to Leeds.

"Now, it stops in the East Midlands without any understanding of how much money is saved."

This report from the House of Commons Transport Committee has been welcomed by Transport for the North, who said the transformation of the rail network is at the heart of realising the North’s economic potential, connecting people to more employment opportunities and making progress in achieving the zero-carbon emissions target.

Martin Tugwell, chief executive of Transport for the North, a quango seeking to prioritise government funding for northern transport, said: “This report is a vindication of what TfN has been calling for some time.

“London and the Southeast has seen vast sums spent on HS1, the first phase of HS2, on the new Elizabeth Line and the Thameslink upgrade.

“Meanwhile the North’s ageing and creaking rail network has had little in the way of new infrastructure or expansion of service, and yet the North’s railway has recovered faster and stronger than the rest of the county, a sure sign of not only how important it is to our economy now but of its potential to be the catalyst for further growth.

“Our plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail are fully-costed and have a robust evidence base to underpin them – they will provide a good return on their investment by allowing the North to break free of the constraints that have held back our economy for too long.”

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