Economy and Infrastructure

31.01.19

Masterplan for £70bn transport overhaul in the north unveiled

A £70bn masterplan to overhaul transport infrastructure in the north has been unveiled and will cut journey times between major northern cities in half, potentially bringing £100bn to the northern economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Transport for the North’s (TfN) 30-year road and rail infrastructure project put 1.3 million people within an hour’s train journey of at least the four major northern cities in “blueprint to deliver transformational change and leave a legacy for future generations.”

The Strategic Transport Plan (ST) and Investment programme proposes a new high-speed rail link from Liverpool to London by connecting the former with HS2 in Crewe, cutting journey times to just 85 minutes.

Alongside improvements to major highways between the north’s biggest cities, TfN’s flagship project will be Northern Powerhouse Rail which will see major upgrades to existing railway lines and the creation of a new line between Leeds and Manchester via Bradford.

The plan aims to better connect the 16 million people in the north, spending £50 per person on strategic transport each year up to 2050, and will also include enhancements to existing rail networks and the continued roll out of smart ticketing.

The Strategic Transport Plan (STP) and investment programme will “rebalance decades of underinvestment and transform the lives of people in the north,” TfN says, by bringing £100bn in economic growth and 850,000 extra jobs to the region.

The plans will now be considered by the statutory body’s board, which includes a number of metro mayors, council leaders and transport authority leaders, on 7 February. If approved, the plans will become TfN’s statutory advice to the government.

But some critics have shared concerns over how the project will be funded, with Hull North MP Diana Johnson stating that with huge London schemes such as Crossrail 2 already on the drawing board, the north may not be “getting the much-needed fairer share of transport investment.”

Jonathan Bray, director of the Urban Transport Group, said TfN needed to “tackle the big challenges” in the north, and it could “hopefully build a consensus around which Whitehall will feel obliged to act.”

But TfN’s chief executive Barry White called the plans a “hugely important document for the north” and said it would mean people in the north would have access to higher quality jobs and better connections to collaborate, trade and grow in a sustainable way.

He said: “This final plan will be a statutory document written by the north, for the north, and will be our blueprint to deliver transformational change and leave a legacy for future generations.”

Investment and growth in the Northern Powerhouse will the hot topic of EvoNorth in Manchester next month. To find out more click here.

Image credit -  George-Standen

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