A blueprint for building the ‘northern powerhouse’ and boosting the economy of the North of England will set out plans to transform connectivity with a high-speed TransNorth rail system, a revitalised highways network and a host of other transport improvements.
Transport for the North (TfN), the body set up to identify how best to drive economic growth through strategic investment in transport, is unveiling its ambitious vision in a joint report with Government – ‘The Northern Powerhouse: One Agenda, One Economy, One North'.
The report includes details of a new TransNorth rail system that could radically reduce travel times and complement the investment into HS2. It also sets out how the North’s strategic road network could be enhanced through strategic planning, investment and technology, and better connections to ports, airports and key economic centres.
Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the TfN Partnership Board and leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Our vision is for a North which has a vibrant and growing economy, acts as a magnet for inward investment, and which capitalises on the strengths of the great cities of the North.
“Our cities are individually strong, and increasingly have the tools to grow, but by working together they can be stronger than the sum of their parts. But what is absolutely vital is securing long-term, cross-party support around our investment plans which run for at least the next 15 years, and the delivery can't change with every election.
“This new report sets out a long-term investment plan in rail and the important relationship between HS2 and regional rail services as well as roads, ports, and airports – covering both passengers and freight.
“What it will deliver is a single market for people, goods and ideas that will empower the North to compete with the rest of the world and become an engine for growth in the UK.”
Welcoming publication of the report, Cllr Peter Box, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said:
"The Northern Transport Strategy shows how greater economic prosperity can come about if the authorities of the north work together. The authorities that make up West Yorkshire Combined Authority are already doing this to bring more jobs and greater economic growth to Leeds City Region.
"Working together across the North to improve connectivity will help re-balance our country's economy. We are committed to make this happen and look forward to working with our partners to turn this interim report into reality."
Cllr James Lewis, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:
"In working together as Rail North, with the Department for Transport on the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises, the North's authorities have already shown that they can improve not just their local rail network but the inter-regional network as a whole for everyone's benefit. The Northern Transport Strategy shows how we can work together for a more prosperous North."
The initiatives, schemes and priorities to be developed, include options for:
- Achieving 20-minute journey times between Liverpool and Manchester on a new TransNorth rail network
- Achieving 30-minute journey times between Manchester and Leeds and Manchester and Sheffield
- Exploring the option to create a new rail line across the Pennines from Manchester linking with HS2 between Sheffield and Leeds to create a high speed network between the three cities
- Exploring the option for a new rail line from Manchester to Sheffield along a similar route to the potential road tunnel which is also being explored
- Achieving 45-minute journey times between Leeds and Hull and 50-minute journey times between Sheffield and Hull
- 140 mph trains between Leeds and Newcastle potentially cutting journey times by up to 35 minutes
- Upgrading the M62 to four lanes of Smart Motorway along its entire length from east of Leeds to Manchester
- Transforming the M6 to a four lane Smart Motorway between Junction 16 (Stoke on Trent) and 19 (Knutsford) and between Junction 21A (Warrington) and 26 (Wigan)
- Completing the upgrade of the A1 to provide continuous motorway standard between London and Newcastle
- Upgrading the M1 J32-35a and 39 to 42 to Smart Motorway to enable hard shoulder running
- Improving road links to the major ports in Liverpool, Hull and Humber supporting freight
- Developing the next generation of major road improvements to address east-west connectivity and strategic bottlenecks
- Exploring the possibility of a major new road link under the Pennines between Sheffield and Manchester – to take HGV and other traffic out of the Peak District national park and protect the natural heritage
- Exploring options to significantly upgrade the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith and the A69 from Newcastle to Carlisle – both aimed at better connecting the M6 to the A1
- Exploring options to resolve congestion on the M60 (junctions 8 – 18) and M62 between Manchester and Warrington
- Delivering a comprehensive upgrade to the A5036 to the Port of Liverpool
- Delivering significant upgrades to the M62 and M60 to provide faster and more reliable journeys
- Completing work to assess options for new Trans-Pennine tunnels (including both road and rail options) to provide relief for the A628 from Manchester to Sheffield
- Studying options to dual the A66 or the A69 in the Northern Pennines
- Completing a series of upgrades to the A1(M) to improve journey reliability to distribution centres around Doncaster and Sheffield and improving access to Tees Port
- Continuing to improve the A19 from North Yorkshire to Newcastle, which would support access at the Ports of Tyne and Tees
- Completing the upgrade to the A160/A180 to the Port of Immingham, including fully upgrading the A160 to dual carriageway between the A180 and the Port
- Completing the upgrade of the A63 Castle Street between Hull and the M62
- Working with northern ports to ensure that their expansion plans are accounted for when developing the wider distribution network
- Producing a northern multi-modal freight and logistics strategy to inform future development of transport investment plans. This strategy will be developed over the next 12 months and will be published in 2016
Smart ticketing and fares
- Taking immediate action to simplify rail fares across the North, eliminating the unfair price differences that exist at present
- Drawing up proposals for a fares structure areas for an integrated northern travel area connecting the North
- Aligning the different tickets and approaches in northern cities
- Engaging with public and private operators of public transport to agree appropriate ways of introducing new technology
- To ensure these plans are carried forward, a clear governance structure and an independent Chair for TfN will be in place by autumn 2015, memorandums of understanding will be agreed with Network Rail, High Speed 2 Ltd and Highways England in spring 2015 and the strategy will be updated in spring 2016. The Government will also look to make a multi-year commitment of funding to TfN supporting the vision set out in the report.
Transport for the North is made up of the northern city regions. It has a board made up of the following city regions, their LEPs, and national agencies:
- Hull and the Humber
- North East
- Department for Transport
- Highways Agency
- Network Rail
- HS2 Ltd