Northern leaders back 30-year transport plan to transform region's economy

Transport for the North is calling for sustained investment in the region’s railways and roads over a 30-year period in order to transform the region’s economy.

The announcement is part of its draft strategic plan which has been backed by northern leaders with the proposals designed to transform the economy by improving the way both people and goods travel. The document is expected to be released on 16 January 2018 with infrastructure and improvement plans thought to cost around £2bn-£2.3bn a year. It will be subject to a 13-week public consultation early in 2018 and will be submitted to the government in due course for ministerial consideration.

John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North, said: "Transport for the North's vision is of a thriving north of England, where modern transport connections drive economic growth and support an excellent quality of life. Our plans would revolutionise travel around the north, particularly east–west links which have previously not received enough attention, and, by extension, will improve how the region does business." Cridland believes that the north has "underperformed compared to the rest of England" for decades. 

The plan identifies seven corridors where transport improvements are needed to allow businesses to grow and job prospects to be increased. Furthermore, leaders are looking to develop sustained investment priorities, with Northern Powerhouse Rail and integrated and smart travel projects named as specific targets.

TfN also confirmed a number of HS2 infrastructure links:

  • Junctions in the Leeds area, enabling trains from Manchester, Sheffield and the Midlands to travel via Leeds and on to York, Teesside and the north east. 
  • Junctions in Cheshire to serve Liverpool via a new line, enabling services between Liverpool and Manchester via the HS2 Manchester spur, and offering the potential for faster Liverpool to London HS2 services
  • Junctions at Manchester Piccadilly which, combined with a range of other interventions, would enable services from Manchester Airport and Liverpool to use either an underground Northern Powerhouse Rail through station or a surface turn-back station to continue east towards Leeds and the north east
  • A junction north of Sheffield at Clayton, enabling trains to run through Sheffield and re-join the HS2 mainline to Leeds

Cridland added: “Robust evidence shows that investing in quality infrastructure, as well as in other important areas such as education, skills development and research, could lead to more than 850,000 additional jobs in the north by 2050 and £100bn additional GVA. Although what we're looking at is investment in our roads and railways, this isn't just about transport. It's about ensuring that the north of England is a thriving region where people can learn, build a career and enjoy an excellent quality of life."

Details of the strategic plan come just a month after Transport minister Jesse Norman announced TfN will transform into the first ever statutory sub-national transport body in England from next April. The body will have new powers and produce a statutory transport strategy for the north which the government must formally consider when taking funding decisions. Once the draft plan is published, it will be subject to a public consultation running from mid-January to early April 2018.

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