Councillor Mike Ross, leader of Hull City Council, inset on a picture of the Guildhall
Councillor Mike Ross, leader of Hull City Council.

Hull City Council leader meets with Rail Minister to discuss rail electrification

The leader of Hull City Council, Councillor Mike Ross, has stepped up his efforts to get certainty from the government on when electrification of the Hull to Leeds rail line will take place.

Following his letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, written following the termination of the HS2 project earlier this month, Councillor Mike Ross met with the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, to discuss electrification of the Hull to Leeds rail line.

During the meeting, which took place on Wednesday 18 October, Cllr Ross took the opportunity to discuss electrification of the line in more detail and seek assurance that it still remains a priority.

Cllr Ross also pressed the Rail Minister for a commitment on when the electrification will happen, with the minster offering to get a timetable out imminently.

Following the meeting Cllr Ross said: “Rail electrification is something that would make a huge difference for Hull and the wider region, helping lead to quicker connections to the rest of the north of England.

“Sadly, it is something that has been promised by previous governments, only for those promises to be broken later on. This is why it is so important for the government now to clearly set out when and how this will happen.

“I look forward to getting more information from the government on exactly what they are proposing. Now is the time for the government to turn their promises into action.”

Chamber Chief Executive, Dr Ian Kelly, added: “We had a detailed and candid discussion with the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon.

“He promised that the money which was being saved by the cancellation of the HS2 Project would be available for electrification work on the Hull to Selby line and other rail improvements locally. However, he was at this stage unable to commit to any timescales for work to begin.

“He also said that he was mindful of the freight issues and was looking at what could be done to improve those and wanted to see more freight on the railways.”

The proposals to electrify the rail lines from Hull to Leeds as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail, has been something that Hull City Council has been working on with its partners at Transport for the North and Network Rail, alongside the Department for Transport for some time.

Reliable rail connectivity is crucial for Hull’s economic growth, and if rail electrification goes ahead, it could potentially put 1.1million people and 31,000 businesses within 90 minutes of Hull.

As well as cutting journey times from Hull to Leeds from 57 minutes to 38 minutes, electrification would also make travel more environmentally friendly, reliable and ensure that new rolling stock could run right across the network.