'No longer fit for purpose': West Yorkshire MPs join forces to tackle Northern Rail

Three West Yorkshire MPs pressed the Prime Minister yesterday for vast railway improvements within Calderdale and Kirklees.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 10:07 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 10:12 am

Conservatives Mark Eastwood (Dewsbury) and Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) were joined by Labour’s Holly Lynch (Halifax) to grill PM Boris Johnson in the House of Commons (HoC) to commit to improving commuter services, as ministers consider the future of the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises.

The debate follows questions on whether the high-speed North-South line HS2 is justifiable or not, which is set to cost £100 billion-plus.

Speaking in the HoC, Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood said: "After inundated with complaints from people of Dewsbury and Mirfield, would the Prime Minister agree with me the Northern Rail service is no longer fit for purpose?

HS2 is set to be completed by 2033

PM Johnson said: "We've started a process that could stripped Northern Rail of its franchising, or issue them with a very different contract."

Halifax MP, Holly Lynch said: "Rail users in Halifax and across the North are suffering every week due to this government's failure to invest in rail infrastructure over the last decade.

"The North needs HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail to make a real start to tackle the North-South divide.

"Will the Prime Minister commit to publishing the already leaked Oakervee report [into HS2] this week and commit to delivering both this projects in full, delivering a rail service that is fit for purpose for my constituents and for the North?"

Mark Eastwood, Dewsbury MP

In response to Ms Lynch, Mr Johnson said: "It’s right that we should look at the value that this country good get from a scheme as costly as HS2, rising now to £100billion and I can assure her the Oakervee report will indeed be published in full in due course.”

Craig Whittaker, MP for Calder Valley, said: “Misery is a polite word to describe the daily commuting experience of those using the Calder Valley train line.

“It’s not just cancelled trains, late trains, or even broken down trains, it’s infrastructure.

“Will the Prime Minister sit down with me and the trains minister to see how heads can be knocked together to finally clear the bottle neck for the £3.9billion TransPennine upgrade which is at a standstill?”

Holly Lynch, Halifax MP

Johnson said: “We're indeed committed to improving the TransPennine route and will be investing very considerable sums to ensure that is done.”

HS2 is a proposed infrastructure project to build a high-speed rail line from London to Manchester and Leeds, via Birmingham, originally designed to begin operation in 2026 and be completed in 2033.

It was supported by the Labour Government after 2009 and has had the support of the Conservatives in government since May 2010.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the findings of the Oakervee review into HS2 will be published next month amid speculation that the links to Leeds and Manchester could be delayed.

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker