THE leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council has hit out at the government’s integrated rail plan, branding it ‘woefully inadequate’.

Cllr Louise Gittins was speaking in her role as interim chairman of Transport for the North following the announcement of the government’s £96 billion planned investment in national railway infrastructure.

The government says the investment - which includes new high speed lines and modernisation of existing lines - will mean towns and cities across the North and Midlands will 'better connected with more frequent, reliable and greener services and faster journey times'.

But aspects of the scheme had been significantly scaled back, with two-thirds of the stretch of HS2 that runs from Birmingham to Leeds being scrapped, and some aspects of Northern Powerhouse Rail being watered down - moves which have drawn criticism from many Northern leaders.

Cllr Gittins said the rail network in the North was 'not fit for purpose' due to what she called 'decades of underfunding'.

She said "It is largely twin-track Victorian infrastructure trying to cope with the demands of a 21st Century economy.

"Leaders from across the North and from across the party political divide came together to ask for a network that would upgrade the North for this century and in line with the rest of the country.

"Our statutory advice asked for a more than £40 billion network but the Government has decided to provide even less than half of that.”

The Government’s plans include building three new high-speed lines, these are:

  • HS2 from Crewe to Manchester,
  • HS2 from the West Midlands to East Midlands Parkway.
  • A new high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and Yorkshire, as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

There are also plans to electrify and/or upgrade three existing main lines including:

  • The Transpennine Main Line between Manchester, Leeds and York.
  • The Midland Main Line between London St Pancras, the East Midlands, and Sheffield.
  • Upgrading and improving line speeds on the East Coast Main Line.
  • But Cllr Gittins said the work does not go far enough.

She added: “If we truly want to level up the country we don’t need words and promises. We need commitment.

“We need investment. We need Government to make good its pledge to the North and to deliver funding so we can deliver value back into UK PLC.”