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Monday 15 November 2021


As part of its supposed agenda for “levelling up”, the Tories had told the world that they were going to transform transport in the north of England via what became known as Northern Powerhouse Rail. Significant journey time improvements were promised, along with new stations and trains. Our free and fearless press, which had long ago dispensed with any specialist knowledge in this area, merely recycled the claims as fact.

Rumbled again, eh?

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, those of us with some knowledge of both the north of England, and the railway, were soon asking an increasing number of those difficult questions. And many of those questions focused on the airy declaration by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson that a new and faster line would be built from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford.

How would a new fast line via Bradford work? The geography of the area, with the city mostly surrounded by hills, meant that trains from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford had to negotiate a slow and steeply graded approach (in both directions) and then reverse at the city’s Interchange station. There were good reasons that, when BR had rationalised trans-Pennine routes in the 1960s, the line via Huddersfield was given priority.

Much of this will no longer happen

Then we were told that a new through station would be built, replacing the St James Market, itself built on the site of Bradford’s Adolphus Street station, which had been downgraded to a goods terminus and then abandoned. Ri-i-i-ight. So would that mean using the existing line on to Leeds (maximum speed 60mph)? And what about the approach from the south west? Tunnels? Sharp and slow curves? Demolition, perchance?

Worse, the new station would be a little further out of the city centre, maintaining the recent tradition of moving Bradford’s stations just a little further away: the 1970s Interchange station is further out than the Exchange terminus it replaced, and the rebuilt Forster Square station is also slightly less central. But the Government want people to get out of their cars. Ah well, never mind, eh? Then there was the rest of this new route.

The main north Trans-Pennine route - not a particularly fast line ...

Trans-Pennine rail routes have lots of curves and tunnels for a good reason: it’s a hilly area with lots of twisty valleys. One look at the existing route from Manchester to Bradford, and that from Manchester to Leeds via Huddersfield, shows the result. A new fast line could be built - but there would have to be a lot of tunnels and viaducts. Costly.

None of that was discussed by the press. Which was most convenient for Bozo and his pals as they swept to General Election victory in 2019. But now has come the moment of truth: the whole project is highly likely to be canned. Instead, there will be lots of money to upgrade existing routes. Which will mean, at best, electrification. Which has already been promised for the Huddersfield line, but constantly put off. Because cost. Allegedly.

... and the route via Bradford is even less fast

Journey time improvements would then be marginal: there would be next to no scope for line speed improvements using existing alignments. Capacity improvements would mostly not happen: after all, schemes like adding two more through platforms at Manchester’s Piccadilly station never happened, and NPR was much more ambitious.

No-one held the Tories’ feet to the fire. No-one asked the obvious questions. No-one stopped and thought about Bozo’s record of lying to please the crowds. Sad, really.

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Anonymous said...

"Levelling up"?

By the people who deliberately destroyed those communities in the first place?

Oh my aching sides.

Anonymous said...

It's not levelling up, but GRINDING DOWN (Oi Kier, you could use this phrase couldnt you?)

Does anyone really expect anything different from the flabby spaffer? No, but unfortunately those in the Red Wall areas who voted for him will just ignore this

More money for London and the SE, and as they write in Private Eye, "trebles all round"

Mr Larrington said...

The nest of tweedy old hearthrugs collectively known as The Yorkshire Post has written:

"The betrayal over HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail means Yorkshire cannot trust this Government ever again"

I have not the words.

Anonymous said...

Haha billy Choogley gets shafted right up his Pennines.

Well …

You were warned …..

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Blue Wall has started to crumble.

Well, it was always cheesey.....

Rosie said...

I am impressed by Tim's knowledgeof all things rail and the challenge fulfilling the blusterer's pledge on Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Could we have a list of all the abandoned pledges , u-turn and lies Johnson has told from manifesto through to this week? The pledge to keep the Triple Lock was another one that was thrown in the bin by Sunak and a a vote to support an amendment to partially restore was lost last night. State Pensioners will be unable to keep up with inflation on food and fuel.

Arnold said...

And from Bozo's Fantasy Island.

"Boris Johnson will unveil £100BILLION investment in Northern rail networks which will see journey times slashed and routes lost to Beeching cuts restored in massive levelling-up drive"