Allegations of ‘lack of economic analysis’ ahead of Northern Powerhouse Rail decision

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The leader of BRADFORD Council has hit out at allegations that the Department for Transport failed to assess the long-term economic impact of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

The government was accused of betraying Bradford last year when a planned new high-speed rail station for the city, which would have placed it on a through route between Leeds and Manchester, was missing from the integrated rail plan ( IRP) long awaited.

Instead, it was announced that the Bradford-Leeds line would be electrified to cut journey times, but at a recent meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s transport committee members questioned how this work would be really effective.

An independent analysis has argued that a new station would have benefited the local economy by £30billion in a decade and led to the creation of 27,000 new jobs.

But it is now claimed that such an analysis was not taken into consideration in the light of the publication of the DfT’s “technical annex” to the rail plan.

He says: “Given the early stage of program development, a comprehensive analysis of
the broader economic impact of the different options has not been completed, in particular to understand the dynamic impact of new infrastructure on land use, employment and population growth in the areas served.

“The value for money assessment reflects a limited assessment of productivity impacts based on reductions in travel times that bring businesses closer together.”

Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “An independent study of the 34 largest cities outside of London has just proven what we’ve been saying for years: Bradford is the Great Britain’s biggest upgrade opportunity. -Brittany.

“We are the fifth largest metropolitan district in the country, but the Bradford district has been left off the main rail network, which means our great people and brilliant businesses are left with second-rate rail links to Manchester, Leeds and London.

“We have the ambition to take it to the next level and become Britain’s first clean growth urban district.

“Many of our plans – which have taken years to develop – are based on creating the 21st century through the station that our district deserves and the wider Northern Powerhouse Rail project, which the Prime Minister has personally promised to deliver. .”

She added: “The government has missed a golden opportunity to make an investment that would have paid for itself many times over by unlocking a regeneration area in Bradford city center that is three times the size of Canary Wharf, creates 27,000 new jobs and delivers £30 billion in economic impact for our district over a decade.

“Now we find that the Department for Transport has not done any detailed analysis of the long-term economic benefits of investing in the Bradford district and investing in the north.

“Failure to consider the economic benefits to the District of Bradford means that our economic recovery will be slower, despite presenting a strong case for investing in our infrastructure.

“This government has described leveling as its central mission.
“How can leveling up be the central mission of this government, if it doesn’t even analyze the economic return on investment of where it is investing money?

“We look forward to presenting our case for the Transport Select Committee inquiry and to calling on the government to re-examine its deeply flawed integrated rail plan, so that the proper economic analysis can be carried out and we can continue the work of implementation. to upgrade the district of Bradford and the rest of our major cities by giving the north the rail network it deserves.”

Julian Jackson, Deputy Director of Planning, Transport and Highways at Bradford Council, added: “The Department for Transport’s new technical publication on the Integrated Rail Plan shows that a full economic assessment of the plans has not been carried out. .

“The success of our country, our cities and towns, and our transportation system depends on people making decisions based on evidence. We are now discovering that the evidence base is lacking when it comes to making the most critical investment decisions when it comes to investing in northern rail infrastructure. for many generations.

“In Bradford, we have been clear on the benefits of investing in our rail infrastructure, including the creation of 27,000 new jobs and £30 billion in economic impact for our district over a decade.

“Bradford’s independent economic analysis is key to understanding the long-term impacts of investing in Bradford and North, which has been overlooked by the DfT.

“In light of the DfT technical publication, the Government should reconsider the recommendations of the Integrated Rail Plan so that we can provide the transport infrastructure we need to level Bradford and level the North.”

A DfT spokesperson said: “These criticisms are an oversimplification and ignore the many benefits our £96billion integrated rail plan will deliver – better connectivity, greener travel and faster improvements for passengers. .

“This technical paper – which is based on sources such as TfN’s (Transport for the North) own work on Northern Powerhouse Rail – simply summarizes how the options under consideration could impact things like capacity and connectivity, decarbonization, affordability and value for money.”

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