The Lord Adonis-led National Infrastructure Commission has called for the acceleration of funding and strategic planning for infrastructure in the North of England. Here are the recommendations from its report released today.
Improving connectivity between the cities of the North will not be sufficient to create the northern powerhouse, but is necessary. Transformations in transport connectivity should form part of a broader strategy incorporating improvements in education, workforce training, research and innovation, spatial planning and wider infrastructure investment.
To connect the northern cities faster and more reliably than today, the Commission recommends that funding be provided to further develop the long-term plan for High Speed 3 (HS3), which should be conceived as a high capacity rail network, rather than a single piece of entirely new infrastructure. This plan must be fully integrated with proposals for maximising the benefits from currently planned investments.
Transport for the North (TfN) should work with the Department for Transport, Network Rail, High Speed 2 (HS2) Ltd and other stakeholders to prepare by the end of 2017 a single integrated strategy, combining short-term action with an ambitious long-term vision, which supports the overall plan for the HS3 network and brings together:
- The upgrade of the Trans-Pennine line between Manchester and Leeds
- The design of the northern phase of the HS2 network, including connectivity to Sheffield and Liverpool; and
- Proposals for the redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station.
The upgrade of the Leeds to Manchester link should form the first phase of HS3 to be developed in detail. It should comprise a long-term programme with the objective of reducing journey times to 30mins, alongside substantial capacity and frequency improvements. The first part of this should be a shorter-term plan, to be developed and implemented by TfN and Network Rail by 2022, to cut the journey time between these cities and to onward destinations by roughly 20% from 49mins to 40mins, enhance capacity and improve service regularity and frequency.
The design of the northern phase of HS2 should be taken forward by HS2 Ltd, working closely with TfN, to ensure that this is planned and delivered so as to facilitate the development of the HS3 network, enhancing connectivity between Leeds and Sheffield, between Liverpool and Manchester (and its airport), and between Sheffield and Newcastle, as well as to onward destinations.
Proposals for the redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station should be prepared jointly by TfN, Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council, Network Rail, DfT and HS2 Ltd. These organisations should work to together to deliver: Detailed plans for the new east-west platforms 15/16 to facilitate delivery early in Control Period 6 and unlock the development potential of the Mayfield site; A masterplan for the longer-term development of Manchester Piccadilly station as a whole, incorporating capacity for HS2 services and options for the delivery and timing of platform capacity for HS3; And proposals for funding and financing the station redevelopment, including for private sector and local contributions.
TfN should follow an approach that seeks to maximise the benefits of current and planned investments and integrates them with an ambitious longer-term plan, in developing and prioritising proposals for other major inter-city links through its Northern Powerhouse Rail strategy. This should include assessing the case and options for early enhancements to key routes and for improvement and redevelopment at gateway stations including Liverpool Lime Street.
On the strategic road network, Highways England should accelerate capacity enhancements to the M62 between Liverpool and Manchester and between Manchester and Leeds. Very substantial capital funding should be brought forwards, so that both schemes can be accelerated, with work beginning between Liverpool and Manchester in RIS year 2017 / 2018 – two years ahead of schedule – and work between Manchester and Leeds also significantly fast-tracked.
Development funding should be prioritised for a package of further enhancements to the northern road network, so that these can be completed as early as possible in the next Roads Investment Period. This package should include: upgrades to the M56 (junctions 6-8) around Manchester Airport; the redevelopment of the Lofthouse Interchange and Simister Island junctions; and capacity enhancements to the M1 (35a-39) between Sheffield and Leeds.
Highways England, the Department for Transport and TfN should continue the current programme of longer-term studies. This work should take due consideration of consistency with strategic objectives, feasibility, affordability, forecast demand and congestion levels, and environmental factors.
Sufficient funding should be made available by Government to support the development of an ambitious cross-modal strategy for northern transport with HS3 at its heart.