The Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with Hull MP Emma Hardy in renewed calls for better trans-Pennine rail links for Hull and the Humber.
The move comes as the Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, launches a consultation to look at ways of improving Manchester’s railway links in an initiative also involving the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Transport for the North.
In a letter to Ms Hardy, the Rail Minister says he “is aware that the rail network in the North has fallen far short of delivering the service passengers need and deserve”.
The Chamber has worked with local MPs for years in efforts to improve rail connectivity for the Humber region, with one of the key aims being to secure a direct rail link to Manchester Airport and improve journey times over the Pennines.
The Chair of the Chamber’s Shipping & Transport Committee, Albert Weatherill, has written a letter to be included in Emma Hardy’s submission to the Rail Minister in which he says: “We have been told endlessly that much of the problem is the congested rail network in and around Manchester.
“Hopefully this consultation will be able to address some of these issues and ultimately provide us with the better rail services and journey times we have been campaigning for.
“Hull is the only major city in the North of England which does not have a direct rail link to its hub international airport, at Manchester. This puts us at a huge disadvantage when attempting to attract inward investment from international businesses. We have numerous examples of businesses employing the services of chauffeur driven limousines to convey business leaders from Manchester Airport to the Humber region because the existing rail connections are so dismal.”
Emma Hardy says: “For years the rail network in the North has not been up to scratch and Hull is the only city in the North of England that does not have direct rail links to an international hub airport. This significantly and directly impacts international business investment and development in our city and puts us at a major disadvantage.
The Government promised to ‘level-up’ the North, and this consultation will show how important they believe its promise to be. If the Humber region is to compete for business investment, future sustainability and growth in economy and jobs, we need the trans-Pennine rail link to provide high speed travel, electrification of the Hull to Selby line, and faster peak travel times, instead of the substandard services that we currently have.”
The Chamber’s letter to Mr Heaton-Harris also called for faster peak travel time rail services and a promise that the electrification of the Hull to Selby line would go ahead. Hopes were raised in July last year when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed plans to upgrade and electrify the trans-Pennine rail corridor were back on the agenda.
Mr Weatherill added: “The M62 currently links the two great Northern ports of Hull in the East and Liverpool in the West, via Manchester. We would like to see the rail network provide similar high-speed travel, instead of the second-rate services that are currently inflicted on the Humber region.
“We hope our ambitions can be dovetailed with the review of services in and around Manchester to give Hull and the Humber the better services and economic boost we so badly need, allowing us to play our full part in the Northern Powerhouse, rather than be left in the sidings!”