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Transport blueprint for 'Northern Powerhouse'

Posted on 29 Aug 2015 and read 2574 times
Transport blueprint for 'Northern Powerhouse'A blueprint for how £13 billion of Government investment in transport will help to create the so-called Northern Powerhouse was released earlier this month.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Making transport better by improving the links that bind the North together is integral to this enterprise. It will bring cities and regions closer together and strengthen connections — Liverpool to Hull, the North West to Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands — making it easier for hard-working people and businesses to access markets or deploy their skills.

“This Government is determined to close the economic gap between North and South. Investing in transport — something that successive Governments have failed to do sufficiently — is vital to making that happen. We had a choice: building the infrastructure our country needs, or letting our transport system become a brake on growth and opportunity.

“We have chosen to invest for the future. Across the North, that investment is already having a huge impact, with programmes underway to upgrade our railways and our roads. We are determined to keep the momentum going.”

The Transport Secretary made his announcement during a visit to the Farnworth Tunnel (pictured), where work has started to provide faster journeys between Manchester, Bolton and Preston by the end of 2016.

The work involves re-drilling the existing tunnel (using a machine bigger than those used on the Crossrail and Channel Tunnel projects) so that the rail line can be electrified, and faster, electric trains can be introduced.

However, Lee Perkins — managing director of the Sage UK software group — said that while closing the gap between the North and South is “rightly a priority”, more needs to be done. “A focus on road and rail improvements will not solve everything. To become a true Northern Powerhouse, we need the right skills and digital infrastructure in place.

“Investments must go beyond meeting the needs of businesses today and ensuring that we are best positioned to capitalise on the economy of tomorrow. A full and robust conversation on what that looks like and how we get there needs to happen before the vision for the Northern Powerhouse can be realised.”