May I begin, Mr Speaker, by wishing you and all of your brilliant House of Commons staff a very merry Christmas?
The integrated rail plan, published last November, set out an estimate of £17.2 billion at 2019 prices for the core Northern Powerhouse Rail network, with a further £5.4 billion for the TransPennine route upgrade. That includes building 40 miles of new, high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and Yorkshire, as well as upgrading and electrifying the rest of the route between Liverpool and York, and the existing line between Leeds and Bradford.
I am grateful to the Minister for that response. The Chancellor has rightly spoken about the importance of capital investment to the long-term growth of the economy but, at the same time, he has downgraded the £40 billion vision of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which was agreed on a cross-party basis with northern leaders, to the much-reduced £17 billion core scheme. Decisions on Northern Powerhouse Rail will shape the future of the railways in the north of England for generations to come and unlock massive economic benefits. Will the Minister look at refocusing Treasury appraisal of NPR on its long-term transformative benefits and whole-life value, rather than on short-term factors? Otherwise, a massive opportunity, not just for the north, but for the whole of the country, will be missed.
I commend the hon. Gentleman, who speaks with great passion on these issues. He is right that the Chancellor is absolutely committed to the long-term benefit to the economy of capital investment and infrastructure schemes like these. Just to be clear, the IRP set out the Government’s view that the core NPR network is the most effective way to deliver rail connectivity benefiting the north. Our plans would deliver substantial journey-time saving and capacity benefits all the way from Liverpool to York. It will do so far more quickly and cost-effectively than alternatives.