“Typical… No Strategic Planning For The North In Years… Then Three Come Along All At Once”
Illustration by Steve Spencer
More investment to improve the North’s transport infrastructure is urgently needed if travel times between the major cities is to be brought up to par with other EU regions. For years there has been little or no strategic planning in place to remedy the situation.
Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative could stand or fall on the back of this lack of planning which is possibly why we have seen three reports turn up at once over the past month.
The first of these reports, Transport for the North’s spring update to the Northern Transport Strategy, focuses on the region’s economic strengths in areas like manufacturing, energy, ports and logistics. An efficient transport network is also a key factor if the North is to compete with other national, EU and global businesses.
A case for improving connections between major cities is put by the National Infrastructure Commission’s High Speed North report where it highlights the urgent need for investment. They see this done not by creating new lines, but by integrating HS3 with the existing network. Mindful of the need to put some cash behind his words, George Osborne has promised over £300m towards making Trans-Pennine connections a reality. However, his announcement may not be the ’green light’ we are all looking for. It simply means he’s given the nod to have the planning stage assess the viability of HS3.
So any real improvements could be years away because, unlike London, transport investment for the North has never been in place to get things moving in the right direction.