Business leaders' fury at "massive scaling back" of rail investment

BUSINESS leaders bemoaned the scrapping of HS2 and the “massive scaling back” of promised investment in public transport in the region.

Responding to the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan today, the leaders of South Yorkshire's Chambers of Commerce said in a joint statement: “There are some positives to draw from today's statement by government.

“The news that Midland Mainline electrification to South Yorkshire is now going ahead is welcome and overdue. The electrification of the Transpennine route is also positive for our region.

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“But overall, this package represents a massive scaling back of promised investments in the north worth billions.

“Cancelling high-speed lines and trumpeting upgrades won't give us the 21st century rail network we need and were promised

“Businesses know this is 'watering down', not 'levelling up'. They know it means lost potential for jobs and investment in supply chains and communities.

“In the eyes of business, this confirms a pattern of treatment by the UK government in the way it works with northern communities. It makes promises, doubles down on them, then breaks them. It then presents these broken promises as generous gifts we should be grateful for.”

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The chamber leaders said the announcement should be a “a wake-up call to community, political and business leaders across South Yorkshire: we need to fight harder and more united than ever before to secure our economic future”.

Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said: “We need positive and real, committed investment in our rail infrastructure.

“This includes upgrading to mainline status of our stations in both Barnsley and Rotherham, enhanced and expanded Tram Train networks across the region to serve the Dearne Valley, the region’s airport at Doncaster, linking into a viable passenger service to Stocksbridge and funding for the major improvements needed to Trans-Pennine connectivity also need to be addressed.

“Instead, we have a government treating the north with total disdain, broken promises being revisited and presented as generous gifts we should be grateful for, totally undermining investor confidence in our towns and regions.”