Council chief launches rallying cry for rail investments in Hull
City Council Chief Daren Hale has called on key figures in the region to rally to support the modernization of rail lines to and from Hull.
It comes amid growing speculation that the government’s long-awaited integrated rail plan could be released on the same day as Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s fall spending review announcement on October 27.
The plan will set out the government’s long-term spending proposals for the rail network.
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Campaigners hope they will include specific funding for the electrification of lines between Hull and Selby and Hull and Sheffield after ministers rejected a privately funded proposal to carry out the work five years ago.
Cllr Hale has written to councilors, MPs and business leaders in Hull and East Riding urging them to “collectively raise the profile of electrification and make it clear that the city needs and demands it.”
In his letter, he declared: “In the current economic context and without significant lobbying with the ministers, the electrification of the roads towards Hull risks being rejected as useless and undesirable by the city.
“We need to make our voice heard to make sure the government is clear on the demand and the urgent need for electrification and the benefits it will bring to the city.”
Those pushing for electrification of the line say it must be part of a fully electric TransPennine route between Hull and Manchester.
It could cut journey times from Hull to Leeds from 57 minutes to 38 minutes, and from Hull to Sheffield from 86 minutes to 50 minutes.
Cllr Hale, who is a board member of Transport for the North, added: “For years we have strived to increase our rail connection in Manchester from one train per hour to two.
“Instead, we are constantly pushing back proposals to add more stops to our service in order to provide local stop service for the Greater Manchester and Leeds areas.
“We understand that a lot of people are looking to travel between Leeds and Manchester by train, but that should not come at the expense of just connecting from another city.
“In addition, the Bridlington service was downgraded to peak hours until May 2022, completely removing the evening provision on this service.
“While this retains some capacity to move, it will have a significant impact on our evening economy.”
Hull North MP Diana Johnson last month called on ministers to speed up decision making on the Hull to Selby line after the government confirmed funding for similar proposals to electrify the rail line between Wigan and Bolton .
She said: “All the arguments about rail electrification creating more passenger and freight capacity on faster, greener and more efficient trains that are used to promote the program between Wigan and Bolton also apply to the lines. railways to Hull and throughout the North.
“The difference is that the combined population of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire totals approximately 861,000 – almost double the combined population of Wigan and Bolton.”
However, the Driffield-based rail consultant criticized Transport for the North’s track record of lobbying for rail investments in Hull and East Riding, saying the organization had failed to promote train travel here. while focusing too much on Manchester.
He said: “We need a knowledgeable voice for the Humber region to demand our proper place in investment and rail services, as the damage to the region’s economy is significant.
“We win all arguments with clear facts, but nothing comes from TfN. Our local representatives must stop playing politics and put the blame where it belongs.”
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