Northern cities unveil £15billion transport plan

A new transport plan developed by a coalition of key Northern cities is being presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP and HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins.

The report, One North: A Proposition for an interconnected North has been formulated in response to the challenge set out by Sir David in his original report HS2 Plus and the Chancellor in his Northern Powerhouse speech on 23 June and is being launched by an alliance of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The ambitious programme laid out would maximise economic growth across the north, boosting transport links and helping rebalance the national economy.

If adopted, the £15 billion, 15-year investment plan, which complements the HS2 proposals, could deliver benefits for the whole of the North of England including up to 150% additional capacity on roads and as much as 55% faster journey times on a faster, more frequent interconnected rail network.

It would also deliver new trains running on a dedicated 125 mph trans-Pennine rail-link, a faster route to Newcastle and better access to ports and airports – improving freight and logistics movements across the country and benefiting personal and business travellers.

One North has been supported by a significant number of other key cities and regions including Hull, Bradford, Wakefield and York – who have all helped shape the findings of the report.

The report proposes:

• Increased road capacity for both freight and personal travel through extended managed motorways, addressing gaps in the network and improving links to ports.
• A very fast, frequent and high quality intercity rail network joining up city regions – including a new trans-Pennine route (tunnelled as necessary), a faster link to Newcastle and improved access to Manchester Airport.
• Improved regional rail networks to provide additional capacity and help sustain growth, interconnected with HS2 and intercity services plus local tram networks and more park and ride facilities.
• New rolling stock (as a priority), electrification of existing lines, higher service frequencies and addressing pinch-points on the rail network
• 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

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said: “In the 19th Century almost half of the world’s trade moved through the Port of Liverpool, but getting freight to and from the Liverpool City Region is just as important today – the planned SuperPORT is going to increase volume by 70% in 2030.

So we need better, faster connectivity – both East-West and through HS2.  Improved trans-pennine connections will lead to a huge, exciting boost in commercial confidence and growth across the North as millions of people find it easier to do business with each other.”

Key economic benefits include the north becoming a destination of choice for investors, connecting businesses with workers and workers with jobs, higher levels of productivity and competition, a modern, new infrastructure to support trade and industry, complimenting the economic benefits of HS2 for the north and ultimately producing a more productive northern economy – all of which means higher wages, profit and tax receipts for the Exchequer.

For example, the Northern Way study in 2009 identified that cutting journey times between Manchester and Leeds by just 20 per cent would be worth up to £6.7 billion to the north.

The report details transport investment across the north as a whole up to 2030 and it is estimated cost of between £10 and £15 billion, but the benefits far outweigh the costs and should be set in context with other transport funding requests – for example recent requests for transport funding in and around London total around £80 billion up to 2050.

Following the launch of the report, the partner cities will continue to work closely together and with key partners including Network Rail, the Highways Agency, HS2 and the Government itself to develop the report into a phased and integrated investment programme. This will be determined by economic value and the potential to deliver a northern powerhouse.