The route to build the ‘northern powerhouse’ will be mapped out today (Monday, 12 January 2015) when regional leaders from across the north of England meet formally for the first time to discuss their plans with the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.
Transport for the North’s inaugural meeting in Leeds heralds the first step of drawing up and delivering a comprehensive programme of strategic investment which will transform the North’s economic infrastructure and help maximise the region’s growth potential.
Chancellor George Osborne has said the creation of a ‘northern powerhouse’ is vital to rebalance the national economy and address the gap in economic performance between the North and London and the South East.
As well as examining east-west rail links to better connect the North, Transport for the North will look at everything from roads, ports and airports to broadband, devolved powers, smart ticketing and how all of this inter-connectivity would itself mesh with and complement the UK’s other regions and HS2.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who was addressing the North’s regional leaders at today’s meeting, said: “Rebalancing the economy and creating a northern powerhouse of jobs, investment, prosperity and bright futures, is a key objective of the government’s long term economic plan.
“It is crucial we work together to deliver a world-class, integrated transport network for the North that reduces journey times, increases capacity and connectivity and enables growth.
“We have already made great strides and the creation of Transport for the North, is an excellent next step. I want Transport for the North to speak with one voice to Government on the big decisions to benefit the region as a whole.”
Transport for the North, a new alliance of the North’s key authorities and agencies, was set up by the Government in October.
It is led by the city regions that made up One North: Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, together with Hull and the Humber, working in collaboration with the Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Network Rail, and HS2 Ltd.
It will jointly produce an interim report in March 2015.
Chair of today’s meeting and leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese said: “This is about how we gear up the north and build a northern powerhouse which can properly fulfil its potential for UK plc.
“Economic growth doesn’t happen by accident, it happens by design and having the right integrated infrastructure in place is vital for us to generate that growth.
“Transport for the North is now charged with drawing up a bold delivery programme to make that vision real in the next 15 years.”
Key proposals Transport for the North is now considering include:
• More trains, more seats and quicker journey times on faster, more frequent interconnected rail services running on electrified lines. Currently, east-west journeys take almost twice as long as equivalent journeys in the south
• A high-speed east-west railway linking Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle
• Improved access to Manchester Airport
• Building in sustainable connections with other proposed schemes such as HS2, Atlantic Gateway, the East Coast Mainline and Northern Hub. Liverpool’s planned superport will almost double in handling capacity by 2030, all of which will need to be distributed around the UK
• Providing additional capacity on the North’s roads for both freight and personal travel through extended managed motorways, addressing gaps in the network, reliance on the M62 and improving links to ports
• A digital infrastructure enabling real-time information, greater network resilience and faster connections between key areas to personal and business users.
• Improved access to enable efficient freight movements by rail, road and water including ports, rail links and distribution centres
• Building HS2 early – extending Phase One to Crewe and bringing forwards the delivery of HS2 between Leeds and Sheffield
• Improving East/West rail freight capability across the Pennines, linking major ports to north/south rail routes
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