Open Letter to the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
More than 80 Northern MPs and Peers have written to the Chancellor urging huge investment in Northern transport to deliver much needed jobs, investment and growth.
The cross-party letter, put together by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, recommends the government commit to £100bn of transport spending in the North by 2050 for major strategic road and rail projects.
One of these major projects, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), could create “economic revolutions”, the letter states, and must be delivered at the same time as HS2 arrives in Leeds and Manchester – scheduled to be 2032 – to realise its full impact.
The signatories, signed by 69 MPs led by Northern Powerhouse All Party Parliamentary Group Chairs Kevin Hollinrake MP, John Stevenson MP, Caroline Flint MP and Julie Elliott MP, and 15 Peers, urge the government to commit to the recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission; to spend an initial £24bn on NPR.
The letter comes as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visits Leeds Bradford Airport amid criticism of his department around the handling of the recent timetabling crisis.
A report from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership found that almost one million hours of productivity was lost to Northern businesses over the six-week period when delays and cancellations were at their height, at a cost of well in excess of £38m.
Advocating the inclusion of NPR funding and wider transport investment in this Autumn Budget, the letter states: “NPR has the potential to increase capacity and reduce journey times but also to greatly enhance transport links that deliver transformational economic growth for our towns and cities.”
It also proposes delivering NPR and Crossrail 2 at the same time to provide a major boost to the UK economy.
Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, said: “This government has embraced the economic principles of the Northern Powerhouse to address the decades of under-investment in the North.
“We are now at a critical point – Northern Powerhouse Rail has the potential not simply to improve rail travel for commuters and families but to deliver economic growth right across the North, not simply in the core cities.
“Bringing forward the delivery date of NPR to the same time as HS2 arrives in the North could see the coming generation enjoy further education and job opportunities currently beyond young people today, and stimulate significant growth for the whole of the UK.”
Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley, added: “We have seen the huge impact the recent timetable fiasco has had on the Northern Powerhouse – commuters unable to get to work, businesses losing out and childcare arrangements being disrupted.
“It is simply not good enough and needs urgent action to address the North’s outdated transport network. Investing up to £100bn in improving roads and rail is a must-have for the people of the North.”
Lord Jim O’Neill, Vice-Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “As someone attracted to spend some time as a Minister because of the focus on the Northern Powerhouse, and being involved in the setting up of Transport for the North, getting a true state-of-the-art transport network is absolutely key.
“Affordable and quick trains connecting all key parts of the Powerhouse, are vital to delivering on the goal of raising productivity both across the North, and with it, the country as a whole.”
The latest publications from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership