In another step forward for Northern Powerhouse Rail, the network that will transform travel across the North of England has been named as one of the UK’s major long-term infrastructure priorities. The National Infrastructure Commission’s first National Infrastructure Assessment highlights the importance of Northern Powerhouse Rail, with a recommendation to the Government that its full delivery be budgeted for over the coming years.
Northern Powerhouse Rail would link six of the North’s main cities (Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield) and Manchester Airport, as well as other significant economic centres across the region. It would transform rail travel across the North, offering much faster, more frequent and reliable rail links and opening up new opportunities for Northern citizens and businesses.
Transport for the North is currently working with partners to finalise a Strategic Outline Business Case for Northern Powerhouse Rail, identifying and costing options for delivering each part of the network. This will be submitted to the Government later this year.
Barry White, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said, “We welcome the National Infrastructure Commission’s recognition of Northern Powerhouse Rail as vital to support long-term economic growth and are pleased to see the network appearing in the National Infrastructure Assessment’s spending plans.
“Following the submission of the strategic outline business case by the end of this year, we are looking forward to working with the Government to develop the detailed plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail, with the aim of starting construction as soon as possible. Whilst we welcome the inclusion of Northern Powerhouse Rail within the fiscal remit, we believe that the North of England needs to see the full benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail as soon as possible. We will be making the case for investment so that Northern Powerhouse Rail can be delivered in full significantly earlier than the 2040 deadline envisioned in the Assessment.
“We agree with the National Infrastructure Commission’s aim of encouraging the growth of cities to drive economic growth and their recognition of how Northern Powerhouse Rail is vital to enable this in the North of England. However, it is important to understand that the benefits of this and other transport infrastructure investments in the North will be felt far outside of just the major cities mentioned in the Assessment. Many of the economic assets of the North which will drive an increase in productivity and economic output in the region are located outside of the major urban centres.
“The report highlights the importance of seizing the golden opportunity to switch to low-cost green energy. The North of England is a leader in providing renewable energy, with major wind farms located off both of our coastlines and advanced manufacturing assets across the region providing the components needed to produce green power. It is only by linking these assets with our major cities and global gateways that we can truly unlock the economic potential of the North.”
The National Infrastructure Commission’s Charter requires the Government to respond to its recommendations no more than a year after its publication. Transport for the North is currently finalising its Strategic Transport Plan for the North of England which is also expected to influence the Government’s future spending plans.