ST HELENS North MP Conor McGinn has called the Government's Integrated Rail Plans a "betrayal of St Helens and the North".

The Government's Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) disappointed Northern leaders when it was announced in November, who felt promises for a 'Northern Powerhouse' were scaled back.

The £96 billion project is a significant investment from the government, but many felt that proposals did not go far enough.

Hopes for improved connectivity between Northern areas and local stations were dashed by the announcement, with the plan opting instead for improving routes on city-to-city journeys, electrifying certain lines and delivering a new high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and West Yorkshire.

HS2 plans were also a continued focus, which aims to cut travel times from Manchester to other major cities such as Birmingham and London.

Conor McGinn MP stated that the IRP impacts St Helens residents as direct connections to Manchester and Liverpool from Newton-le-Willows will be sacrificed for the sake of a two-minute improvement time between the cities.

Mr McGinn stated that there is also a lack of measures to improve access to local services, such as Garswood or Rainford, or developing the link between St Helens Junction and Central stations.

There was also little mention of the creation of new local stations, such as Carr Mill in St Helens, which would greatly improve connectivity to other areas in the North West.

In addition to this, revised railway timetables from December 2022 could also see fewer services through stations on the Chat Moss Line, as well as increased overcrowding on local trains and constraints on passenger numbers.

Speaking at a parliamentary transport debate on Wednesday, January 12, Mr McGinn said that St Helens deserves "top-class transport for residents, commuters and visitors alike."

St Helens Star: Conor McGinn MP raised the issue at a parliamentary transport debateConor McGinn MP raised the issue at a parliamentary transport debate

Commenting, Conor McGinn said:

“After promising us a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to transform transport in St Helens and across the North, Ministers broke their word and betrayed our communities.

“Instead of acting to support the progress we’re making locally and build on our bold ambitions, they offered up a plan that isn’t even fit for the present, never mind the future. That’s totally unacceptable.

“Ministers must start treating our communities with more respect. That starts with ensuring local people finally have access to the quick, reliable and affordable transport they need and fully deserve.”  

St Helens Star: Northern leaders met in St Helens in November to discuss transport plansNorthern leaders met in St Helens in November to discuss transport plans

The Government's response:

“We’re spending £96bn – the biggest ever such investment – to boost our rail network and level up the entire country, not just city hubs.

“The majority of this spend will be focussed on bringing opportunity and prosperity to the Midlands and the North and to better connect HS2 with other local, regional and long-distance transport, all a decade quicker and at better value for the taxpayer.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson added that the IRP "delivers more benefits to more places more quickly than previous plans" and further funding to the Liverpool City Region will "deliver transformational change to transport" across the region by "supporting growth and productivity, levelling up and decarbonisation."