This morning, a new £19bn Crossrail line has been unveiled in London as the capital gears up to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.
Four years late, £4bn over budget and still not completely finished, whilst the new Elizabeth Line is undoubtedly a welcome new arrival in the capital, the aplomb with which it has been announced has left a sour taste in some northerner’s mouths.
Amidst the rejection of plans for an underground here in Manchester and a series of derailed promises regarding the scrapped Eastern HS2 leg, which planned to connect the East Midlands with Leeds; whilst the capital hails its new ‘cathedral-like’ stations and the ‘longest trains ever seen’ in London, some northerners are feeling decidedly ticked off.
As the new Elizabeth Line was unveiled in London this morning, the Prime Minister tweeted that “it’s not just Londoners that will reap the rewards, but the whole country”.
The new Crossrail Line in the capital sees more than 70 miles of train lines and 10 new stations open, spanning London and the South East from Reading to Heathrow.
The new 205-metre-long trains can each carry up to 1,500 passengers and will run every five minutes to start with, cutting the journey time for Londoners crossing the capital in half.
The project has already created 42km of new tunnels under central London, with the Prime Minister revealing last week that he already has a second £30bn London Crossrail 2 project in his sights.
However, whilst Londoners will be enjoying better connectivity than ever across the city over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, here in the north of England it has just been announced that train services in and around Manchester will be ‘severely disrupted’.
Network Rail will complete a ‘major signalling overhaul’ in Manchester over the Jubilee weekend, seeing a large number of Manchester trains replaced by buses in order to help our trains ‘run on time’.
As part of these upgrades, a 132-year-old signal box near Philips Park will be removed. Network Rail will also replace nearly 4km of track and secure over 2.8km of overhead wires.
As a result, passengers travelling between Leeds, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Victoria, and Stalybridge over the weekend will likely suffer delays as services are re-directed and/or replaced with buses.
The ‘colossal upgrade’ to Northern rail is part of another delayed project, initially forecast to be completed in 2018.
A part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade, it was originally part of George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse Rail pledge, which also featured plans to upgrade Manchester’s Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations
Once labelled a ‘priority’ by the Prime Minister, this original Northern Powerhouse Rail line was envisioned as a 40-mile, high-speed route that would connect east to west between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford.
It would have enabled more hourly trains to run between northern cities and allowed for shorter journeys on almost every important route, but the £36bn plan was ultimately rejected by Westminster for being too costly.
Here in Manchester, rail passengers have become quite used to travelling on cramped, overcrowded trains with reduced timetables – but it appears that the coverage of the new £19bn Elizabeth line is not going down well on social media today.
Taking to Twitter, Mancs have not held back on voicing their opinions, with one person tweeting: “So excited for the Elizabeth line to improve Manchester! It’s what we’ve all been waiting for up here.”
Another said: “How is this good news for the ‘entire country’? Good news for London yes, but is theElizabeth Line going to mean a more frequent service between Lancaster and Barrow? Or more carriages on trains down to Manchester? Or more affordable rail fares nationwide?”
A third added: “£9,000,000,000 for the Elizabeth line while the quickest train between Leeds and Manchester is still 53 mins to do 47 miles. Northern powerhouse plans scrapped. Disgrace.”
A fourth said: “So the Elizabeth line opens 3years 6 months late at a cost of 18.8 billion but meanwhile in the north we can’t half a major route built between Sheffield and Manchester still??? Talk about levelling up.”
Another added: “New Elizabeth line is 100km. If you put a pin in central Leeds and drew a 100km radius, you could reach as far as Liverpool, Manchester, Lincoln and all coastal towns in the north east and west. WHY does London need a an inch of dazzling new infrastructure?”
Whilst a further person commented: “Nice to see the London based, The Queen Elizabeth line, which has cost the UK taxpayer £20billion is making national news. I look forward to using the service from the north where a trip to London costs £140 return or a trip to Manchester takes longer today than in 1965…”
The Department For Transport said in a statement: “We continue working towards delivering a rail network that is cleaner, greener and fairer to taxpayers, while boosting opportunity right across the country.
“Our work to date has seen 800 miles of electrification in just four years and the largest ever single investment with the £96bn Integrated Rail Plan. This will deliver improvements to the Midlands Main Line, as well as the completion of the Transpennine Route Upgrade.”
Feature image – Boris Johnson / Facebook
Woman who protested alone outside Chanel show labelled ‘a queen’
A woman who staged a lone protest outside the Chanel show in Manchester last week has been inundated with praise from locals.
The woman was positioned on High Street, mere metres from where a-list celebrities and high-fashion models were parading for the fashion giant.
The fact that the exclusive event took place in Manchester has been considered a huge coup for the city, and one which will have had a significant economic impact.
But the woman outside the Chanel show chose the opportunity to highlight the stark contrast between the luxurious fashion show and the harsh reality of many living in poverty in our city.
She held a sign that read: “Over 250,000 children living in poverty in Manchester. Higher than UK average.
“Manchester has one of the highest level of homelessness. 1 in 74 people. 7407 and rising!
“Where have you hidden the homeless Andy??”
Speaking about Chanel, she told photographer Project Certi: “No one was consulted about this. It’s not for the people of Manchester. You can come here if you want a celebrity spot but that’s not for you.
“This sort of thing moves around the world, they’ll have it somewhere weird and wonderful every year, and this is kind of like, capitalising on the working class history of Manchester.
“The poster’s got, ironically, the suffragettes on it, you know, people fighting for rights. They’re using images from the Hacienda, they’re using music of Joy Division and New Order, all of that what made Manchester on the music map all came out working class struggle. It all came during Thatcher and the attack on the working class, which is exactly what we’re seeing now with 12 years of austerity.”
She also highlighted the man who died on the street in the Gay Village on a night where temperatures dropped, and the ‘cr*ppy B&Bs’ that homeless people find themselves housed in.
Speaking of the impact of Chanel on Manchester though, Deputy Leader Luthfur Rahman OBE said: “The impact of the decision by CHANEL to hold its prestigious Métiers d’Art show here in Manchester is something that is already resonating with people around the globe and is going to continue to be felt by the city for quite some time.
“It speaks volumes about the regard in which Manchester is already held across the world, but more importantly it also sends a clear signal to international businesses and the international visitor economy that Manchester is the place to be.
“It’s impossible at this stage to even begin to quantify the economic impact hosting the event has had on the city, or to put a figure on it. The true impact will involve not just the direct spend and income generated within the city over these last few weeks leading up to and during the event, but also the longer-term benefits that will come from the massive boost to Manchester’s profile that CHANEL has given the city, that in turn translates into more visitors coming to see what Manchester has to offer, and more businesses choosing to invest here.
“It has been without doubt quite a moment for Manchester, not least coming as it does off the back of many other significant moments for the city this year, that together place Manchester in absolute pole position on the world’s stage for the years ahead.”
In the comments on Project Certi’s video, one person wrote: “Thank you for giving this woman a platform.”
Another wrote: “Whoever this woman is, she’s a legend. As are you for capturing it.”
Someone else posted: “I have so much respect for this woman, I’d love to meet her and let her know she’s not alone in her feelings towards this.”
One comment said: “She is such a queen, bang on with everything she’s saying.”
Unexpected Manchester city centre street named ‘one of the most polluted’ in the UK
A new fieldwork study has revealed the worst air polluted city centre streets in the UK, and a popular Manchester thoroughfare has been named one of the worst.
Except, it’s really not the street you’d expect it to be.
For some bizarre reason, despite the fact it’s a pedestrianised commercial shopping street in the heart of Manchester city centre, Market Street has been named one of the most polluted streets in the country.
Recordings were taken at high streets in the 25 largest towns and cities in the country over a two-week period, and the results found that 76% are exceeding the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended annual level of air pollution, The Hoot reports.
The study enlisted a planning consultancy to collect samples using an air quality monitoring device at 11am on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to ensure as much comparability as possible between the locations.
The study comes after a poll of 2,000 adults found that 36% have concerns over the health of the community due to air pollution, or the health of their family (26%) or themselves (25%).
Speaking on the shocking findings from the new study, Sam Clarke, who is the chief vehicle officer at the sustainable energy business, said: “With millions set to hit the high street this festive period, we wanted to look at the state of the nation’s air quality in the locations people will be doing most of their Christmas shopping.
“It’s shocking to see that so many were above the World Health Organisation’s annual recommendations for air pollution, and that one in 10 shoppers are even planning on foregoing the highstreets altogether due to air quality.”
20 streets in the UK were over the recommended World Health Organisation recommended levels of 5 µg/m3).
The Most-Polluted Streets in the UK
Stoke-On-Trent (Parliament Street) – 11.7
Newcastle (Northumberland Street) – 11.5
Leicester (Gallowtree Gate) – 11.2
Coventry (West Orchards Way) – 11.1
Hull (Jameston Street) – 10.7
Bradford (Broadway) – 10.6
Southampton (Above Bar Street) – 8.8
Nottingham (High Street) – 7.7
Luton (George Street) – 7.6
Manchester (Market Street) – 7.6
Northampton (Abington Street) – 7.3
Birmingham New Street – 7.3
Liverpool (Church Street) – 7.1
Derby (St Peter’s Street) – 6.9
London (Oxford Street) – 6.8
Sheffield (Fargate) – 6.3
Brighton (Western Road) – 5.6
Leeds (Briggate) – 5.3
Portsmouth (Commercial Road) – 5.1
“If we’re to reach the World Health Organisation’s annual target of 5 µg/m3 of PM2.5 in our air, collectively we need to change our behaviours,” Sam Clarke added.
“With vehicle emissions being a key contributor, anything we can do to travel more greenly, from walking more to cycling, and including electric vehicles, is a very valuable set forward to improve the air we breathe daily.”