TAMESIDE’S MPs still want answers over transport concerns after the Government axed plans to build the HS2 train line to Manchester.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced £36 billion for other transport projects after deciding not to press ahead with taking the high-speed track to Manchester’s Piccadilly railway station.
However, while it may have eased worries over the Metrolink line connecting Tameside to the city being cut off, issues have not ended.
And Ashton-under-Lyne’s Angela Rayner, Stalybridge and Hyde’s Jonathan Reynolds and Denton and Reddish’s Andrew Gwynne want further clarification on how the money pledged will actually affect the areas they serve.
Ms Rayner told The Correspondent: “The HS2 announcement made by the Prime Minister was a massive kick in the teeth for the north.
“The Government has failed to provide the detail needed to fully understand the full implications for transport services within my constituency and I will be vigorously pursuing clarity for local residents.
“This staggering Tory fiasco has seen costs soar and the north and Midlands are left to pay the price.
“What started as a modern infrastructure plan left by the last Labour government has, after 13 years of incompetence, waste, and broken promises become a colossal symbol of Conservative failure.
“Almost all of Sunak’s proposals had already been part of government plans, so cannot be described as new investments, nor reinvestments. It’s an utter shambles.
“I will continue to press for answers so we have a clearer picture of what this means for our area.”
Prime Minister Sunak attracted criticism for including an extension of the Metrolink to Manchester Airport, where it already runs to, in his plans.
However, connecting towns apart from the city – like Ashton, Stalybridge or Hyde – to places like Oldham or Stockport may be looked at.
Leader of Tameside Council, Cllr Ged Cooney, told The Correspondent last year: “I’ve always had an argument. The problem is the tram is geared to go in and out of Manchester.
“If I go into London, I could get the Circle Line, which goes around.
“To get to Stockport on the tram, I go into Manchester. To get to Bury, I go into Manchester. I want to be able to go from Tameside to Stockport, Rochdale or Oldham.
“The reverse is they would be able to come into Ashton, Stalybridge, Hyde or Dukinfield. People could say, ‘We’ll pop on the tram and go into Stalybridge or Denton or Hyde.’
“I’ve been arguing we need an orbital tram rather than one which just feeds in and out of Manchester.”
And Stalybridge and Hyde MP Mr Reynolds, whose constituency could arguably benefit the most from an orbital Metrolink scheme, will seek answers himself after seeing what he feels are errors.
He said: “I am sad, angry and deeply disappointed at the way we have been treated. This is simply no way to run a country.
“HS2 was about taking fast services off the existing rail network so it could be used for better local services. You cannot provide better local rail services without that new capacity.
“If anyone seriously thinks we’re getting £36bn spent on alternative projects, they should go and try and find platforms 15 and 16 at Piccadilly (promised over a decade ago).
“The Network North document includes things long completed, such as Metrolink to Manchester airport, and lots of projects long announced and not delivered, such as dualling the A1
“The map that has been published includes projects in Plymouth. Anyone from the north with actual experience of using these services would have quickly pointed these errors out, so clearly no-one with any local knowledge was in the room when this happened.
“With regard to Metrolink, I’m confident we could have solved the problem with the proposed construction schedule cutting the line.
“This issue going away is no comfort in the face of the total betrayal of the north and the breaking of a flagship Government promise.”
Lastly, Mr Gwynne believes the decision reduces the chances of a service between, for example, Stalybridge and Stockport, which would go through Denton.
He said: “This really is a bad decision for the north, and insult really.
“The north needs HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail across the north in full. The real issue here is capacity as much as speed.
“Putting HS2 trains on the West Coast Mainline at slower speeds will take additional paths for local train services and will make it very difficult to get crossover slots on to the Stockport-Stalybridge line.
“This concerns me greatly given the ambition for both heavy and light rail passenger services to use the line, not least through Denton and Reddish.”