Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East Stuck in High Speed Sidings; PS33bn Scheme Won't Come near Region

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East Stuck in High Speed Sidings; PS33bn Scheme Won't Come near Region

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional Affairs Correspondent ? 0191 201 6286 ? adrian.pearson@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE Government's high speed rail plans were last night attacked for condemning the North East to second best. The PS33bn new line will travel to Manchester and Leeds before trains travel further north on existing, slower, lines.

Ministers unveiled the proposed route North yesterday which will see 211 miles of new track to: ? Manchester (alongside the existing city centre terminal at Manchester Piccadilly); ? Manchester Airport (linked directly to Manchester Airport's three terminals); ? Leeds (in the South Bank area of the city centre); ? South Yorkshire (at Sheffield Meadowhall, alongside the M1); ? East Midlands (between Nottingham and Derby at Toton, near the M1).

The plans as they stand would see a 20-minute saving on journeys from London to Newcastle, with a two hour 18 minute average time.

But with no firmer prospect of the High Speed 2 line itself coming further north than Leeds, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin was called on to do more.

Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes was one of those meeting with the Prime Minister and Cities Minister Greg Clark in Leeds yesterday.

Mr Forbes said: "I have been very clear with government that Newcastle needs to see the benefit.

"We have been given assurances that there will be appropriate access in to the East Coast Main Line and will be calling for this in our consultation response.

"But equally there is also the Scottish question, it is as important for us to be connected to Scotland as it is for us to be part of the route to London, and we need to bear that in mind."

And Blaydon MP Dave Anderson told the Commons that with the North East already suffering from some of England's worst transport connections, the decision not to bring High Speed 2 itself to Newcastle was a damaging snub.

He said: "With a dual carriageway that doesn't reach us we already have the worst road system in the country. …

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