The five largest city councils in north England have written to the Treasury urging the government to fund the £560 million Northern Hub transport scheme as a complete package.
The leaders of Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield City Councils have called on Chancellor George Osborne to award a funding package so the project can be built between 2014 and 2019.
The hub plan was buoyed at last year’s budget, when Mr Osborne announced £200m for regional rail schemes, including £85m for the Ordsall Chord phase of the hub, linking Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations.
The letter - seen by Construction News - points out that the government has consistently prioritised infrastructure investment as the best way to achieve private sector economic growth and welcomed the announcement of funding for the Ordsall Chord.
But it says: “Because the Northern Hub consists of a number of component parts, it is susceptible to ‘cherry picking’, which is dangerous.
“Failure to deliver the scheme in full would jeopardise the widespread support that the proposal enjoys as well as delaying the realisation of the benefits, both to passengers and the economy, for many years.
“Your department will be agreeing spending decisions for Control Period 5 in the next few months. We want to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance we place on the Northern Hub, and urge you to agree to fund the scheme, in full, for delivery between 2014-19.”
Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said the government recognises the benefits from improved rail connections for the northern economy and welcomes the work done by Network Rail and Local Authorities on the Northern Hub proposals.
“This is why it gave the go-ahead for the construction of the Ordsall chord earlier than expected and the electrification of the north trans-Pennine route between Manchester and York via Leeds.
“Currently Network Rail is carrying out further development work on the business cases for the remaining elements and for the whole project. We will consider the other elements of the Northern Hub package as part of the next High Level Output Specification process published by the end of July.”
Transport for Greater Manchester said city leaders have taken this “rare step” in support of the scheme because its benefits would stretch across the north, generating £4bn in economic benefits, creating up to 30,000 jobs and enabling 700 more trains to run every day across the region.