Key road and rail routes will “form the backbone” of Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) plan to improve connections to drive the region’s economy.
TfN is currently identifying the road and rail routes that will boost the region and which should be an investment priority. It is working with Highways England and the Department for Transport on three studies, which include plans for better east-west road connections.
Highways England has already carried out studies looking into improving Manchester’s M60 north-west quadrant (junctions eight to 18), upgrading key northern Trans-Pennine routes and possible routes for a Trans-Pennine tunnel.
It is also working up ideas for the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, so that six of the North’s big cities can better link together and also link with Manchester International Airport. Network Rail is feeding into this to help prioritise the improvements needed.
“Until now we have been largely working behind the scenes, gathering evidence and working with our partners to identify what needs to be done to create a plan for the North capable of delivering transformational change,” said TfN chief executive David Brown.
He added: “The hope is that the days of places like Carlisle and Newcastle bidding for transport investment funds in isolation when there is clearly a common interest will quite simply be over. Local transport authorities will still have their autonomy. We are not there to trample on their territory, quite the opposite; we are there to identify where there is added value and simply join the dots.”
“All of the work to date is helping to inform the development of TfN’s integrated road and rail strategies which, together with a number of other work programmes, will inform and shape the development of the North’s first strategic transport plan. This plan will last until 2050 and beyond providing long-term visionary thinking that can transform the northern economy.”
TfN is made up of a number of local authorities as well as bodies such as the DfT, Network Rail, Highways England and High Speed 2 Ltd.
But despite government pledges to support the Northern Powerhouse, new figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research North claim that the infrastructure pipeline shows a projected gap of £1,500 spent per person per year on transport infrastructure, compared with that spent per head in London.
It said: “The most up to date analysis of the national infrastructure pipeline shows that 35% of total infrastructure spending and 54% of all transport infrastructure spending in the UK will continue to take place in London.
“2017 is a critical year. With significant transport spending rounds being prepared and a strategic transport plan due to be published by Transport for the North, public and businesses alike will expect to see major new commitments.”