WYCA: £400m for northern transport ‘a helpful start’, but must go further

A combined authority has welcomed chancellor Philip Hammond’s announcement of a £400m injection for northern transport, but argued that funding will have to run into the billions to have a strong impact.

Leaders of authorities in the north have recently criticised the government for failing to give the region suitable funding for transport, but yesterday at the Conservative Party conference the chancellor defied expectations by promising £400m for transport – including £300m for HS2 links and £100m for public connections including roads.

“Poor infrastructure can be a barrier to progress,” Hammond said yesterday. “That’s why, as the party of progress, we are investing record amounts to strengthen transport links.

“This investment will go towards ensuring HS2 infrastructure can link up with future Northern Powerhouse and Midlands rail projects – helping the towns and cities of the North reach their full potential.”

Susan Hinchcliffe, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), has welcomed the cash, but argued that the funding needed to go further to bring the north’s infrastructure truly up to standards.

“Investment in northern transport infrastructure is always welcome,” she said. “It’s vital that West Yorkshire and Leeds City Region are ‘HS2-ready’ so that all our towns and cities benefit from new high-speed links.

“Speeding up journey times between our northern cities, increasing capacity on the road and rail network and enhancing connectivity so that people can access good-quality jobs and businesses can reach new markets is essential if the north is going to fulfil its economic potential.”

Hinchcliffe described the £400m investment as a “helpful start at better connecting our great towns and cities across the north”, helping ensure planned investment in the HS2 network links up with future transport infrastructure such as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) – connecting Bradford, Leeds and York with cities such as Sheffield and Newcastle across the north.

“But the investment the north needs in its transport infrastructure runs into billions,” Cllr Hincliffe warned. “Transport for the North are working on their plans for the whole of the north.

“Once they have submitted these to government there will be an expectation of much greater levels of investment. In the meantime the TransPennine upgrade and Calder Valley remain priorities for us in West Yorkshire alongside HS2 and NPR.”

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