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Northern mayors call for transport investment priority over London

The two newly-elected metro mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region have launched a call for the government to prioritise infrastructure investment in the north, namely by committing to build an east-west rail link across the region, known as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), before work begins on the capital’s Crossrail 2 project.

The pair, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, called on Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and prime minister Theresa May to match Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to drive transport investment by ensuring that better rail links are built in the north.

It follows warnings from MPs on the APPG of London in March that progress being made with Crossrail 2 – London’s planned south-west to north-east rail link – was at risk of being delayed by ambitions for the north’s east-west NPR.

But now, Burnham and Rotheram have asserted that a push for better northern transport links must be a top priority for the next government, particularly by creating better connections for airports in Liverpool and Manchester and improving east-west routes.

“It cannot be right that a journey from Manchester Piccadilly to Newcastle can take the best part of three hours, particularly when London to Paris can be done in the same amount of time,” said Burnham, Greater Manchester mayor. “A 21st century economy needs 21st century infrastructure.” 

He added that despite promises made to the area via the Northern Powerhouse scheme, road and rail systems were still creaking as a lack of infrastructure investment was holding back the economy.

And Rotheram, Liverpool City Region’s mayor, said: “Liverpool and Manchester built the world’s first ever passenger railway nearly 200 years ago, and there is a compelling logical and economic case for better and faster connectivity between the two cities.

“We desperately need additional capacity and better infrastructure if we are going to realise the full potential of our two great cities and create an urban economy with the critical mass to balance London.

“This is a vital piece of investment for the wider region and for our country as a whole.”

In late 2015, Lord Adonis, who heads the National Infrastructure Commission, told PSE’s sister title, Rail Technology Magazine, that the work of the regional public body Transport for the North (TfN) would bring about transformational change by making the sum of the northern city-regions more than their parts.

Lord Adonis, the former Labour transport secretary, linked the work of TfN with the ongoing developments as part of the Northern Powerhouse, and said transformation would partly come through the east-west NPR link.


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