During the Conservative Party Conference speech, the PM confirmed he would cancel the leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester but said that ‘every penny’ of the planned £36billion leg would be spent on key infrastructure. However, Mr Sunak pledged his support for the Energy Coast Line between Carlisle, Workington and Barrow.
Upgrading the line will enable trains every 30 minutes between Carlisle, Workington and Whitehaven. The upgrade will also accommodate major new freight demands from the new coal mine and provide regular services for the Westlakes Science Park, Nuclear Academy and Sellafield.
This could result in more than 18,000 jobs being created, the government claims. The Energy Coast Rail upgrade would see more space for freight and passenger trains and improve the reliability of the line more broadly – both essential to support inward investment and to meet the needs of businesses and communities along the length of the line and the wider rail network.
Reacting to the news on X, formerly Twitter, MP Mark Jenkinson said: “£36 billion for transport infrastructure upgrades across the North. For faster, cheaper and more reliable travel (including the Energy Coast Line in West Cumbria), what’s not to love?”
Simon Fell MP said: “Delighted to see the PM commit to upgrading the Energy Coast line, stretching from Carlisle, Workington and Barrow in his speech this afternoon. This crucially important line links Moorside, which would generate up to 7% of the UK’s electricity, to Barrow.
“Upgrading this line will allow over 172million tonnes of freight to be taken off our roads, and will support our national security, energy security, and our international partners too. Providing this capacity will support job creation across the coast, taking pressure off our local roads, boosting tourism and unlocking new homes in South Cumbria. This work is critically important and I’m very grateful to the PM and his team for their focus on Furness and South Cumbria.”
Reacting to the announcement made by the Government yesterday on scrapping the northern leg of HS2, Cllr Denise Rollo, Cumberland Council Executive Member for Sustainable, Resilient and Connected Places said: “The decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2 is really disappointing but sadly not surprising. This is a huge missed opportunity, not just for Cumbria, but for the entire country. Just last week, I met with leaders from various businesses and cross-party political spheres at the Transport for the North (TfN) Board meeting where we unanimously agreed on the importance of completing both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) to truly revolutionise the North of England.
“Making sure Cumbria was featured on the High Speed Rail map was important to our region’s future growth and investment so the decision to withdraw the northern leg of HS2 without a clear alternative plan is genuinely disappointing.
“The pledge to ‘reinvest every penny saved’ in roads, rail and buses in the North is of course welcome and we were pleased to see a commitment to improving the Cumbrian Coast Line along with cash for pot hole repairs and resurfacing schemes as part of this. As a council we are now eager to work with the government to gain a full understanding of how the proposals outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech, could impact on us here in Cumberland.”