THE DECISION to scale back the Northern Powerhouse railway plans has proved intensely controversial since its announcement yesterday, with local leaders saying our region has been "betrayed" once again.

Despite promising a Northern Powerhouse project that would connect areas of the north with a high speed rail network, Boris Johnson has climbed down on this ambition and predominantly opted to upgrade the current railway lines.

Ministers say that the £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan will increase capacity and shorten travel times, yet they have been accused of breaking promises and not delivering what was planned.

For local residents, there is not much improvement in services as direct connections from Lea Green and Newton-le-Willows have been sacrificed for a two-minute improvement on the journey from Liverpool to Manchester.

St Helens Star: The majority of the rail network will be improved by upgrades to current lines The majority of the rail network will be improved by upgrades to current lines

Additionally, there are no plans to improve services from areas in need of investment such as Garswood and Rainford, with the City Region also told that if Liverpool want a new station to integrate high-speed rail, it will have to be self-funded.

The new plans have met criticism from a range of leaders in the north, with Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham calling them a "cheap and nasty option" that is detrimental to Merseyside, the wider North and the UK as a whole.

With repeated promises to 'level up' the North, MP for St Helens North, Conor McGinn, said the government have broken their promises and "let our borough and region badly down".

St Helens Star: Conor McGinn MPConor McGinn MP

In a statement, Mr McGinn said: "It’s appalling the Conservatives have broken their promises to transform rail for us here in the North, instead giving us a lacklustre plan that would damage our region's economy and cause huge disruption.

"These proposals would fail to improve journey times, badly hurt connectivity in St Helens Borough by axing direct routes to Manchester and elsewhere from stations like Newton-le-Willows, and limit expansion of passenger and freight services to help us grow in the future.

“It does nothing to deliver the first-class rail infrastructure we need to unlock our borough and city region’s potential, and there were no plans to improve services from Garswood and Rainford.

St Helens Star: Marie Rimmer MPMarie Rimmer MP

St Helens South and Whiston MP, Marie Rimmer, similarly stated that the region gets "nothing" from the announcement.

She said: "The North has been betrayed again. When HS2 was first announced, it was the first major infrastructure for generations that would have benefitted the whole North. Us Northerners are used to being let down by Tories.

“St Helens and the rest of the North needs HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in full. It would have connected the great towns and cities of the North to each other, along with a faster, and more direct route to London. The economic benefits were huge. We were promised levelling up, but in the end all we got was a great train robbery.”