Prime Minister Boris Johnson has waded into the heated debate over the northern high-speed rail link, by giving his support to the project which, he says:
"will shave literally hours off the present Manchester to Leeds duration."
The duration Johnson was speaking about currently takes 50 minutes.
HS2, as the project was known as when it was first dreamt up, years ago, recommended improvements all the way from Liverpool to Hull, but that would be too expensive at the moment, and the first stage is to be the cross-Pennine section. Even this short section will cost £39bn, but, says Johnson, it will be worth every penny.
"I once went to Liverpool," he said. "Awful place."
Asked for his opinion on the Manchester-Leeds section, he said:
The Transpennine Express is a service that starts out from Hull, and stops at Brough, Goole, Selby, Leeds, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Stalybridge, and Manchester Piccadilly. It should take 1 hour and 55 minutes, but is nearly always delayed. If Mr Johnson could just speak to somebody about sorting the ridiculous number of times the train is late, that would go some way to satisfying northern rail travellers. But Johnson said:
"What are all in such a hurry for? It's only the north!"
And questioned about on when northern businesses could look forward to the work on the line starting, and giving them a shot-in-the-arm boost, the prime minister responded:
"Don't hold your breath!"