West Yorkshire Combined Authority leaders have welcomed the publication of a new transport plan developed and launched today by a coalition of key Northern cities.
Called One North: A Proposition for an interconnected North, the report sets out how the North of England can meet the challenges set out by HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins in his own HS2 Plus report and by the Chancellor George Osborne MP in his recent Northern Powerhouse speech.
One North sets out an ambitious programme to maximise economic growth across the north, boosting transport links and helping rebalance the national economy by delivering benefits across the whole of the North of England.
Drawn up to complement the plans for HS2, the £15bn 15-year investment plan includes new trains running on a 125 mph trans-Pennine rail-link to Newcastle, a better overall interconnected rail network and 150% more road capacity on roads. It would also deliver better access to ports and airports – improving freight and logistics movements across the country and benefiting personal and business travellers.
Download the One North report (pdf 1.87Mb opens in new window).
Responding to One North’s publication West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said, “As the report sets out, the North of England has a population of 15 million, is larger than London and almost as big as the Netherlands but its economy is not achieving on that scale and this is partly due to a legacy of Government under-investment that means our transport network has not kept pace with growth in our economy and our workforce.
“One North’s proposals for a new cross-Pennine rail route, better highway links and improved local rail networks highlight exciting and ambitious opportunities for maximising economic across the North. Better connected, our cities, towns and districts would be able to maximise their massive potential in line with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s objective of boosting jobs and growth.
“Through the West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund and other connectivity improvements proposed in the Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan and endorsed in today’s One North report, we can unlock the full potential of the Government’s investment in HS2 and release billions of pounds of additional economic investment to create thousands of new jobs.”
Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said, “At the heart of this northern economic area, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is poised to maximise the opportunities to better connect our region to the north, south, east and west.
“Connectivity is the lynchpin of our Strategic Economic Plan which resulted in an historic Local Growth Deal settlement from government – the largest of any LEP area in the country. However, our current infrastructure cannot support the above trend growth we are proposing, to compete on a global platform and to attract the best skills and talent from across the world, and therefore we need to invest now to ensure good growth is felt in the region.
“I support the proposals set out in this One North report to ensure the north is connected in all directions. Alongside the investment from the Local Growth Fund and Transport Fund, we are committed to working with partners across the country to ensure our formidable set of economic assets is matched with a high performing transport network and world class digital infrastructure to connect people, places and jobs seamlessly.”
Commissioned by an alliance of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield and supported by key cities including West Yorkshire’s five districts, the report’s main proposals are:
- Increased road capacity for both freight and personal travel through extended managed motorways, addressing gaps in the network and improving links to ports.
- A very-fast, frequent and high-quality intercity rail network joining up city regions – including a new trans-Pennine route (tunnelled as necessary), a faster link to Newcastle and improved access to Manchester Airport.
- Improved regional rail networks to provide additional capacity and help sustain growth, interconnected with HS2 and intercity services plus local tram networks and more park and ride facilities.
- New rolling stock (as a priority), electrification of existing lines, higher service frequencies and addressing pinch-points on the rail network.
- A digital infrastructure enabling real-time information, greater network resilience and faster connections between key areas to personal and business users.
- Improved access to enable efficient freight movements by rail, road and water including ports, rail links and distribution centres.
- Building HS2 early – extending Phase One to Crewe and bringing forwards the delivery of HS2 between Leeds and Sheffield.
- Improving East/West rail freight capability across the Pennines, linking major ports to north/south rail routes.
Productivity and competition
These would help make the north a destination of choice for investors, connect businesses with workers and workers with jobs and generate higher levels of productivity and competition. The new infrastructure would support trade and industry, maximise the economic benefits of HS2 for the north which in turn means new jobs, higher wages, a more productive northern economy and ultimately, higher tax receipts for the Exchequer. One North’s report’s authors say the £10bn to £15bn investment costs up to 2030 are far outweighed by the benefits it would deliver.
Councillor Keith Wakefield Leader of Leeds City Council said, “The North has long been calling for better connectivity between cities outside London. Getting the right investment in our transport systems would deliver unprecedented change to better connect people and jobs, which is crucial if we also want to rebalance the national economy.
“This report demonstrates once again that only through tackling our out-dated transport system will the North be able to fulfil its true economic potential, benefiting our own local communities and the country as a whole.
“HS2, supported by strong regional transport networks, has the potential to bring transformational regeneration and investment to many of our cities and city regions. Building from the North would increase the pace of that change while at the same time delivering much needed jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities.”
One North has also been welcomed by leaders from Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield whose cities, following today’s launch, will continue to work closely together and with key partners including Network Rail, the Highways Agency, HS2 and the Government itself to develop it into a phased and integrated investment programme. This will be determined by economic value and the potential to deliver a northern powerhouse.
New civic power
Responding to the One North report, the Chancellor said he was ready to commit new money, new infrastructure, new transport and new science as well as ‘real new civic power’.
He said he had a Pathway to a Northern Powerhouse which included delivering One North’s ‘component parts’ and plans for new, globally-ambitious science in the North. In September, he said, David Higgins’ new report on the northern phase of HS2 will also look at a new high speed route across the Pennines.
The Chancellor also mentioned proposals for the transfer of powers and budgets to cities in the north that wanted to ‘move to a new model of city government’ which is thought to mean the introduction of single mayors. Mr Osborne also talked about work to improve on skills, schooling and housing as well as the local environment and culture.