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Transport plan for the North to be published in New Year

Words: Laura Edgar
The north of England / iStock-157336374

A draft Strategic Transport Plan for the north of England has been agreed by civic and business leaders.

The plan, which outlines the transport infrastructure required to transform the region’s economy, will be published in the New Year for 13 weeks of consultation.

It will also be submitted for consideration by government ministers “in due course”.

Transport for the North, which will become a sub-national transport body early next year, said the plan would identify seven corridors where transport improvements are needed to “allow businesses to grow and job prospects to be increased”.

The ‘Connecting the Energy Coasts’ corridor is set to explore ways to improve connectivity between some of the UK’s non-carbon energy and research assets in Cumbria, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, the North East and Tees Valley.

In addition, it will highlight two pan-Northern priorities for investment – Northern Powerhouse Rail and, Integrated and Smart Travel.

Short and medium-term priorities have been identified, building on the current levels of road and rail investment in the North. In the short term, contactless smart ticketing has been suggested, in order to make paying for travel and sourcing information on public transport easier for passengers. In the medium term, it is expected that Northern Powerhouse Rail will provide rapid, regular and reliable East-West rail connections to “complement” the improved North-South connections offered by HS2.

Transport for the North has estimated the cost of the plan to be £2 to 2.3 billion a year, equating to “to less than £150 per citizen per year”. This includes spending already expected as part of ongoing transport investment in the North.

John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North, said: “For decades, the North has underperformed compared to the rest of England. Robust evidence shows that investing in quality infrastructure, as well as in other important areas such as education, skills development and research, could lead to more than 850,000 additional jobs in the North by 2050 and £100 billion additional gross value added.

“Although what we’re looking at is investment in our roads and railways, this isn’t just about transport. It’s about ensuring that the North of England is a thriving region where people can learn, build a career and enjoy an excellent quality of life.”

A Strategic Outline Business Case for the Northern Powerhouse Rail network is expected to be submitted to the transport secretary by the end of 2018, but Transport for the North will outline its emerging vision for the network within the draft Strategic Transport Plan. This includes the ways in which Northern Powerhouse Rail will interact with HS2 and the best options for each part of the network based on work undertaken to date.

It plans to work with HS2 to ensure that a number of requirements are recognised in the HS2 Phase 2b plans, including:

  • Junctions in the Leeds area, enabling trains from Manchester, Sheffield and the Midlands to travel via Leeds and on to York, Teesside and the North East.
  • Junctions in Cheshire to serve Liverpool via a new line, enabling services between Liverpool and Manchester via the HS2 Manchester spur, and offering the potential for faster Liverpool-London HS2 services.

Image credit | iStock