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Northern Powerhouse plans urge £70bn for infrastructure

Proposals calling for up to £70bn to be spent on transforming infrastructure in the North over the next 30 years have been unveiled.

Transport for the North, which will gain statutory powers in April, has published a 98-page draft plan setting out its recommendations to “transform road, rail, air and sea connections” across the region and rebalance the UK economy.

The proposals, which will be go out to public consultation, include building a new rail line between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford, which forms plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

A new line between Manchester Airport and Liverpool is also recommended.

However, as previously rumoured, the plans only include an upgrade to the rail line between Manchester and Sheffield.

Upgrades are also recommended on lines between Sheffield and Hull, Leeds and Hull and Newcastle and Leeds.

TfN estimates the improvements will bring a £100bn economic boost to the North of England and 850,000 extra jobs by 2050.

The aim is to ensure 1.3m people are within an hour of four or more major northern cities; the figure currently stands at only 10,000.

Northern Powerhouse Rail map index_CREDIT Transport for Greater Manchester

Northern Powerhouse Rail map index_CREDIT Transport for Greater Manchester


From April TfN will have a mandate to make recommendations to the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Highways England and HS2, on behalf of 19 transport bodies across the North.

Transport for the North chairman John Cridland (pictured) said: “Our plan proposes a revolutionary investment programme that will make it possible to travel to high-quality jobs.

“This is an ambitious programme that will improve our roads and railways, and will also drive a sea change in skills development in the North and ensuring we meet that historic gap in investment.”

Total investment over the 30 years would be between £60bn and £70bn, TfN said, which equates to “less than £150 per northern citizen per year”.

The figure also includes spending that would already be expected as part of “ongoing strategic transport investment in the North”, TfN said.

Seven “corridors” of opportunity are identified in the plan, including the ‘Southern Pennines’ corridor that would see road and rail improvements from the Port of Liverpool to the Humber Ports via Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Sheffield. 

Question marks have previously been raised over the government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse agenda, which was originally spearheaded by former chancellor George Osborne.

The government also cancelled plans last summer for rail electrification projects in the Midlands and North, while backing Crossrail 2.

However, in his Budget last November, chancellor Philip Hammond committed £300m to “ensure HS2 infrastructure can accommodate future Northern Powerhouse and Midland services”.

Mace director for the North Steve Gillingham described today’s proposals as “a prize worth fighting for”.

He added: “This is an ambitious plan but one that is wholly achievable. This is not just important to the North, but to the country as whole.

“It plays to the region’s strengths of advanced manufacturing, digital, energy and health innovation but is forward-looking to the emerging tech and innovations that could arise in the next 30 years.”

A 13-week public consultation on the proposals will run until 17 April. 

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