The government should give more urgency to the creation of new high-speed rail links in the north or risk creating a British Donald Trump, a leading Greater Manchester councillor has warned.
‘Richard Farnell, the leader of Rochdale Borough Council and Greater Manchester’s spokesman for housing and planning, is calling for the HS2 and HS3 proposals to be fast tracked.’
He said: “Millions of Americans living in left-behind areas have grown tired of waiting for change so voted in a way that would make people sit up and take notice. In the UK we have areas like the north of England where people are becoming increasingly frustrated at the vast regional disparities in investment and opportunities we have in this country.
“They watch as London builds another Crossrail or another bridge over the Thames or a new Tube line and wonder why big infrastructure like HS2 and HS3 are still being talked about after many years. HS1 from London to the Channel Tunnel opened in 2007 so why are we still talking about another 17 years before HS2 opens?”
Councillor Farnell spoke out after revised plans for the proposed HS2 line from London to the north of England, which could cut journey times between the capital and Manchester by up to an hour, were revealed. He believes HS2 and HS3, a planned high-speed rail line between Liverpool and Hull, should now be prioritised.
He added: “Greater Manchester is pressing for rail improvements like better rolling stock and increased frequency but many people in our region are still commuting to work in overcrowded Pacer trains that were deemed unfit for the south of England more than 30 years ago.
“Brexit showed us that there is a feeling of resentment in many areas. We must not add to that. The dangers of not pressing on with high-speed rail links in the north, is that it will add to the sense that large parts of this country feeling are being left behind and that wealth and opportunities are being created elsewhere. The government must act quickly or we will end up with our own version of Donald Trump.”