NORTH East MPs have reacted in anger after the Government announced a scaled-back plan for rail investment for the North. 

The Government has been accused of a “betrayal of trust” as it set out its long-awaited revised plans for Northern England and the Midlands.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) would slash journey times across the region with 110 miles of new high-speed line.

But Labour said the package unveiled in the House of Commons abandoned previous assurances given on the extension of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

And Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen was scathing in his assessment of HS2 and the positive impact it would have on the region.  

Read more: What Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said after scrapping HS2 plan

Mr Houchen said: “HS2 will deliver nothing for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. The whole project is a waste of money and should be scrapped in order to focus on improving regional rail travel.

“As mayor, if I was given one per cent of the HS2 budget I would be able to revolutionise public transport on a scale we couldn’t possibly imagine today."

The Tees Valley mayor welcomed the proposed improvements to the East Coast Main Line, and improved journey times but insisted "we need to keep an eye on Government to make sure this is delivered and delivered quickly."

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said: “Today’s announcement from the Government shows again that you cannot trust a word they say or a promise they make.   

“For too long the North East has been forgotten and rail commuters have faced a poor service on inadequate infrastructure and major investment is needed across our regional network. It’s a different world compared with the South East. 

“If HS2 is to lift the strain off our entire rail network and deliver the full benefits for passengers and communities across all of the North of England and the Midlands, all of it needs to be built not just part. HS2 frees up capacity across the Northern and Midlands rail networks and will enable better local and regional services and create the space for more freight on rail.  

“If we are really going to make the critical shift to address the climate crisis, we need the modal shift from road and air to decarbonised rail. That means the expansion of rail electrification right across places such as the Tees Valley.  

“This short-changing, make do and mend is simply not good enough.  

“We have had 11 years of promises from this Tory Government and here is another one ripped to shreds."

Durham City MP Mary Kelly Foy criticised decades of "neglect and growing inequality" in the region. 

She said: "People in the North East have every right to feel disappointed by this announcement. 

"After decades of neglect and growing inequality, the Government could have signalled that Levelling Up was on track by expanding rail connectivity, instead its more of the same. 

"The North needs and deserves transformative rail investment, and that means delivering HS2 and northern powerhouse rail in full, connecting our northern cities and towns to create new capacity, faster services and unlock connectivity and prosperity.

"The decision to ignore the strong economic case for investment in local routes such as the Leamside Line is yet another levelling up let down."

Read more: Government says Newcastle to London rail journeys will be cut by 21 minutes

London to Newcastle journeys will also be cut by 21 minutes after the improvement work has been completed. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said trips from Newcastle to Birmingham will be slashed by almost 30 minutes, while passengers in Durham and Darlington will benefit from "smoother, more reliable trains".

Yet the Transport Secretary’s announcement has been slammed by Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, as a further betrayal of northern voters after it emerged that transport spending per head in London is over double that of spending per head in the North East.

New analysis has shown that transport spending per head is over double in London than it is in the North of England, with £877.76 spent per head in London compared to £314.11 per head in the North East in 2019/20.

Rail fares are set to sky-rocket by their highest increase in a decade next year, meaning commuters such as those going between Thornaby and Newcastle will be paying £1,633 more for an Annual Season Ticket than they did in 2010.

Mr Cunningham, who recently pressed the rail minister for further investment in rail services and infrastructure across the Tees Valley, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that people in Stockton North and Teesside, who have had to put up with old, inadequate rail stock and poor connectivity for too long, and will now likely face a record increase in rail fares in a few months’ time, paying more than 50 per cent more to get to work than a decade ago.

“Instead of taking action on the cost-of-living crisis affecting people here in Teesside and fixing the transport problems they created, the Government are looking the other way, trapping us in a cycle of regional inequality, high tax and low growth.

“It’s laughable and insulting to expect people in to be satisfied with watered down schemes and crumbs from the table, after putting their faith in a Prime Minister who has gone back on his word at every opportunity.”

The Conservative Sedgefield MP Paul Howell welcomed the news but admitted further investment is needed in the region. 

"The north is receiving significant investment connecting many communities substantially quicker than previously indicated," he said.

"We want this once in a generation investment to deliver for this generation not just the next one.

"Of course there are areas that need a further push and I will continue to work with colleagues across the north to promote the Leamside line as part of this. In the meantime delivery if the Northumberland line and Ferryhill station will start to deliver now and as the Darlington to Dales line follows we will see it really touch our communities, not just talk about it."

Conservative MP for Darlington welcomed the investment, which he said will deliver "better transport links and spread prosperity and opportunity decades sooner than previously planned, all while levelling up the country".

He added: “I welcome the improvements in speed and capacity across the north on top of the other benefits Darlington is benefiting from levelling up. The days of a sub two-hour journey time to London is in sight.

“There remains more to do like reopening the Leamside line and pushing our campaign to bring the HQ for GB railways to Darlington.

“The people of Darlington will benefit from these investments much sooner than under earlier announcements."

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054