Transport leaders in the North have welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to funding transport in the region made during the Autumn statement.
John Cridland, Chair of Transport for the North and former Director-General of the CBI, said, “We know the North currently lags behind the rest of England in terms of productivity but has huge potential. The new Northern Powerhouse Strategy highlights evidence from our Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, published earlier this year, which identified that with the right investment in infrastructure and skills development, by 2050 the North’s economy would be worth £97 billion more than if it carried on developing at the current rate. That’s a huge prize, not just for the North but for the whole of the United Kingdom, and we are pleased that the government has recognised its importance.”
In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor confirmed that TfN will continue to work with the Department for Transport on the development of the Northern Powerhouse Rail network to revolutionise the region’s railways. In the Northern Powerhouse Strategy it was announced that much-needed investment to transform important east-west road links across the North will be allocated, delivering faster and more reliable journey times for road-users.
In the early 2020s, work will commence to improve connections around the M60 area north-west of Greater Manchester, improving a vital strategic route onto the M62, M66 and M61 and addressing one of the most congested areas on the nation’s road network. The Chancellor also confirmed plans to upgrade the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner, providing a much needed new dual carriageway between Cumbria and the North East. In addition to this, funding is being allocated to tackle pinch points on the A69 and the Government is considering other road routes across the Pennines.
These major projects will improve journeys for those travelling between the North’s economic centres for business.
It will make it easier to visit the North’s outstanding natural areas, such as the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.
The road improvements will also help freight travelling into and across the North, allowing more goods to be brought into the North’s great ports and potentially reducing the amount of freight travelling into the North from ports on the South coast.
The funding commitments relate to the Northern strategic road studies, co-managed by TfN and the Department for Transport. These studies examine options for improving Northern Trans-Pennine routes, address issues around the M60 North West Quadrant and look at routes for a potential Trans-Pennine Tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield. Reports from all three studies will be published in due course.
John Cridland said: “The Government’s recognition of the need to invest in the North to help unleash its huge potential is very welcome. One of the major hindrances for the North is poor transport infrastructure, particularly east-west links. That’s why we are developing Northern Powerhouse Rail, a network which will revolutionise train travel for passengers and freight, and it’s why we’re working with our partners to identify all of the major roads in the North which are vital for the growth of the region’s economy. The improvements announced today are a good first step in building the transport links needed to transform the North.”
“Transport for the North is seeking statutory status to become England’s first Sub-national Transport Body next year. This will put us in the position to develop and implement our Strategic Transport Plan for the North. The Plan will outline the transport improvements needed over the next thirty years to transform the North’s economy. We look forward to now ensuring this plan aligns with the Government’s Northern Powerhouse Strategy.”