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Chancellor promises £400m Northern Powerhouse transport investment

Words: Laura Edgar
Philip Hammond / Shutterstock_258120800

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced government support for the Northern Powerhouse with £400 million for transport improvements.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Hammond said the government is committed to the Northern Powerhouse and the funding 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”.

More than £100 million of the investment will go towards local road schemes to tackle congestion and speed up journeys. The funding will come from the £23 billion National Productivity and Investment Fund (NPIF).

It will go towards 13 schemes in the North-West, 10 in Yorkshire and the Humber, and 10 across the North-East. The schemes have been proposed by local leaders.

An extra £300 million aims to take forward government plans to improve rail links across the Northern Powerhouse and provide more frequent and faster services, specifically ensuring that HS2 infrastructure can accommodate future Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect services.

A government statement says this will make it “easier and less disruptive to build Northern Powerhouse Rail in the future”, enabling faster journeys between cities in the north of England, as well as to the East Midlands and London.

This follows a summer of uncertainties regarding rail links across England and Wales.

A statement from transport secretary Chris Grayling in July said new bi-mode trains would be deployed on the Great Western Main Line in South Wales, the Midlands Main Line and in the Lakes between Windermere and Oxenholme, “instead of carrying out disruptive electrification works along the whole of these routes”.

Leaders of cities and regions in the north of England then called on the government to clarify whether it remained committed to the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, welcomed Hammond’s announcment but said it is just the first step in providing the investment that the North needs and was promised.

"At best this investment will only deliver benefits in the future. However, the travelling public in the North is having to put up with sub-standard rail services right now. Electrification across the Pennines was promised in 2011, but today the chancellor was silent on this. People here deserve a better answer on when Manchester to Leeds services will improve.

"Today’s announcement would not have been made if the North had not got organised and found its voice over the summer. We won't put up with clapped-out trains and congested roads any longer. Until we have a clear plan for the investment required to build a Northern Powerhouse we were promised, the voice of the North will only get stronger."

Image credit | Shutterstock