All Trains Lead to London

Marcus looks at the north south divide in public transport after they cancel the Northern leg of HS2.

Marcus Williamson
6th November 2023

Now that HS2’s connection to Manchester has been cancelled, it leaves many blankly staring at the stark differences between public transport in the North compared to that in the South.

South Yorkshire, for example, recently saw many of its bus routes axed following the Pandemic and an increasing number of timetabled buses failing to arrive at stops. In isolation this is understandable. We all know COVID wasn’t cheap but when London gets the Elizabeth line for £4 billion over its budget and South Yorkshire has to campaign to have its circular bus routes back, it doesn’t really seem fair.

Maybe I’m just bitter. According to a study by the Centre for Cities, Newcastle has a larger public transport network than many of their much-prized continental counterparts. But at the same time Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds are named as having much smaller areas served by public transport when compared to the continent. The study also found a direct correlation between the productivity of a city and its public transport links. 

London being prioritised is understandable, it has the largest population, biggest industry and is the centre of the country’s political system. But if it’s being supported to the detriment of areas like Manchester, does that show a divide between the north and the south?

It certainly feels that way at times, especially when headlines include figures such as London getting £419 more per head on public transport than the north of England, from the Guardian in 2018.

Hopefully, schemes like the proposed Washington Metro loop will help to soften this divide, but for now it seems to be a very real issue. 

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