Think tank calls for prompt improvements to the North’s transport

March 19 2019 @ 16:25 by Richard Dawson

The Chancellor must use his upcoming Spending Review to enable the North to develop smaller, short-term improvements for the North’s transport users – alongside the big-ticket items – says IPPR North.

Sub-national transport body Transport for the North is currently working on major long-term plans to bring Northern transport into the 21st century. But while major projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail are essential, they will take decades to deliver.

In a report published this week (March 18), a think-tank for the North of England argues that Northern people also need to see smaller-scale improvements in the short term. Not only can these help transform the North’s economy, but they are evidence of the Government’s commitment to the North.

Researchers identified some examples of the ‘quick win’ projects that could deliver real economic, social and environmental benefits and start as early as 2020. These are case studies that showcase the diversity of potential interventions, and there are many others that should be considered as part of a new project appraisal methodology:

  • Reopen the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne railway for passenger services, which could boost the economy by £70 million a year.
  • Build the Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway rail station, expanding Yorkshire’s internal and international connectivity.
  • Support the development of hydrogen trains which could regenerate Tees Valley and Merseyside.
  • Intervene in the Tees Valley’s rail network to unblock the passenger and freight networks.
  • Implement new traffic management technology to improve air quality in the North.
  • Build a new bridge across the river Teesto allow the economy to reach its potential, having a wider impact on the North.

The Government must use its 2019 Spending Review to allocate and devolve a £400 million project development fund to Transport for the North to be spent in conjunction with local transport authorities, and in line with TfN’s appraisal methodology, IPPR North’s Luke Raikes has argued.

Report author and Senior Research Fellow at IPPR North Luke Raikes said:

“Often the focus on Northern transport is about the big-ticket projects which will transform our economy in the longer term, and the Government must commit to these, as well as completing long-awaited programmes like the Northern Hub.

“But today we are highlighting the value of smaller-scale projects and the transformative effect they can have much sooner. These relatively inexpensive projects could be quick to deliver and could make a real difference for the people of the North.

“The North can bring these plans forward but needs the resources and commitment from government to do so. That’s why we need the Chancellor to commit new development funding to the North in this year’s Spending Review.”

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