THE Government’s high speed rail plans were last night attacked for condemning the North East to second best.
The £33bn new line will travel to Manchester and Leeds before trains travel further north on existing, slower, lines.
Ministers unveiled the proposed route North yesterday which will see 211 miles of new track to:
:: Manchester (alongside the existing city centre terminal at Manchester Piccadilly);
:: Manchester Airport (linked directly to Manchester Airport’s three terminals);
:: Leeds (in the South Bank area of the city centre);
:: South Yorkshire (at Sheffield Meadowhall, alongside the M1);
:: East Midlands (between Nottingham and Derby at Toton, near the M1).
The plans as they stand would see a 20-minute saving on journeys from London to Newcastle, with a two hour 18 minute average time.
But with no firmer prospect of the High Speed 2 line itself coming further north than Leeds, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin was called on to do more.
Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes was one of those meeting with the Prime Minister and Cities Minister Greg Clark in Leeds yesterday.
Mr Forbes said: “I have been very clear with government that Newcastle needs to see the benefit.
“We have been given assurances that there will be appropriate access in to the East Coast Main Line and will be calling for this in our consultation response.