February 1, 2018
A plan to drive economic growth through transport investment in the North East and the wider North of England was launched at a special event last month at Newcastle International Airport.
Aimed at rebalancing the UK’s economy through a sustained 30-year programme of transport infrastructure investment, the plan could deliver a £100 billion boost to the economy and 850,000 additional jobs by 2050.
The public are now being asked to share their thoughts on the proposals.
Speaking at the launch event, Cllr Nick Forbes, chair of the North East Combined Authority’s Transport North East Committee, said: “This investment would not only support business growth, attract new businesses to our region and create jobs, but would also enable people to access a wider range of employment and training opportunities – not just in their local area but also further afield.
“We believe [the plan] would transform not just our regional economy but also the future prosperity of the country as a whole.
“Our task now is to unite as a region in persuading government of the importance of matching our ambitious plans with the resources and powers necessary to make them a reality.”
Andrew Hodgson, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “A strong, well-connected, environmentally-friendly and sustainable transport system is crucial if we want our economy to grow and continue to make this region an enjoyable place to live and work.”
While a full list of the improvements that will be needed has not yet been published, emerging priorities for the North East include upgrading strategic highway links to the rest of the North and to Scotland, Northumberland to Newcastle rail connections, the Leamside Line and Durham Coast Line, and improved access to Newcastle International Airport. These are in addition to the baseline investment assumptions set out within the plan.
Alongside the corridors, Transport for the North has for the first time outlined its emerging vision for Northern Powerhouse Rail, a rapid, reliable and resilient rail network between the North’s six biggest cities and other significant economic centres.
Northern Powerhouse Rail, which would see much faster connections between Newcastle and Leeds, via Durham, Darlington and York, would reduce journey times between Newcastle and Leeds to 60 minutes.
The plan is accompanied by an updated Rail Strategy for investment in the North’s existing lines, stations, services and franchise operations, reflecting the planned integration of Rail North into Transport for the North in April this year.
In the short term, Transport for the North has commenced a rolling programme from now until 2021 to introduce integrated and smart ticketing across the North of England. This will make paying for and planning travel much easier, starting in major cities and across the busiest routes.
The public consultation on the Strategic Transport Plan will run until April 17, 2018. A final version of the plan will be published later in the year and submitted to the Government for ministerial consideration.
Transport for the North