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Northern Cities Call for Investment

15 August 2014 | Updated 01 January 1970
 

A strategic proposal for substantial investment in Northern England has been proposed by five cities in a report entitled  'One North A Proposition for an Interconnected North'

 

Led by the city regions of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, the 'One North A Proposition for an Interconnected North' report puts forward the argument of the ‘critical importance of transport for vibrant, sustainable economic growth across the North’. It will cost £15billion, spread over 15 years and has met with the approval of Chancellor George Osborne who pointed out that the sum is less than London’s Crossrail project.

The report is an initial response to the challenge set out by Sir David Higgins in his report HS2 Plus with the intention of formulating ‘a coherent strategic transport plan integrating HS2 with the existing rail network, transforming connectivity across the North’.

The report points out that the 15 million population of the North is larger than London and almost as big as the Netherlands but that the regional economy was not doing as well. The ambition was for the North to be a dynamic counterweight and complement to the London and South East economy, a destination of choice for investors, helping rebalance and expand the national economy in the a balanced way.

If followed through, by 2030, it will have achieved the following:

  • A new tunnelled trans-Pennine route with trains with speeds of 125mph, rather than the current 90mph
  • A fast and frequent intercity rail network joining up the cities, including a faster link to Newcastle and Manchester airports
  • Improved regional rail networks to allow additional capacity and electrification of existing lines
  • Increased East/West rail freight capability across the Pennines
  • Improving road networks and access to ports
  • The moves would work with the existing HS2 scheme for the North.

Although the Labour Party responded well, in general, to the report, it cast doubt on the implementation of it by the current government. "George Osborne….is failing to back the Heseltine report or Labour's plans to devolve billions of pounds of funding, noted Shabana Mahmood, Labour's shadow Treasury Minister. “Infrastructure output has fallen by over 12% since 2010 and the Chancellor has refused to back our proposal for an independent infrastructure commission to end the dither and delay on long term decisions."

For its part the RMT union remained sceptical about the delivery by the Coalition government of what seemed on paper, to be ambitious plans to rebalance the regions. "These plans are totally at odds with those outlined in the government's current consultation on Northern Rail and TransPennine Express which, far from recommending expansion, actually slash services to ribbons," said Mick Cash, Acting General Secretary, RMT.

Picture: Five Northern cities have produced a report on how the regional needs in transport can be addressed

Article written by Mike Gannon | Published 15 August 2014

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