Transport officials from Scotland and northern England have signed a deal to improve cross-border links.
The memorandum of understanding – signed by Scottish infrastructrue secretary Keith Brown and Transport for the North board member Nick Forbes – aims to “radically enhance transport connectivity within and between the north of England and Scotland”, with a focus on improving business links between the neighbouring regions and boosting the economy.
As well as boosting work to create a high speed rail link across the border, the deal will give Scotland the power to influence the Northern Transport Strategy, which is being designed by Transport for the North to inform Westminster’s “Northern Powerhouse” plans.
Brown outlined the Scottish government’s commitment to infrastructure investment, highlighting major projects including the Queensferry Crossing, the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the Borders Railway.
“Alongside these projects, extending a high speed rail link to Scotland will ensure that businesses in Scotland and the North of England are able to compete and grow, as well as boosting vital supply chain economies,” he said.
“We recognise the strong connection we have with our neighbours in the North of England and that there are important flows of labour and goods across the border. Investment on one side of that border can affect economic outcomes on the other, and we can maximise the return on investment by sharing views and aspirations.”
Forbes added: “In the North of England we are determined to take charge of our own transport needs and ensure investment is directed to create more and better jobs. Transport for the North gives for the first time our businesses and communities a say in how our roads, railways and other transport links are developed for the future.
“Better connections to Scotland as well as between our major cities in the North will be vital in transforming our economies. From offshore engineering to tourism, the North of England and Scotland are joined together in a way that brings great opportunities for growth. This memorandum of understanding shows how we will both do all we can to ensure the travelling public and businesses see the benefits of co-operation for years to come.”
Civil engineers last month warned that the UK government’s vision for the Northern Powerhouse would not be fully realised without significant improvements in connectivity.