MPs call for £100bn northern transport investment

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The cross-party group of politicians said improved transport connections were crucial for narrowing the divide between London and other English cities

More than 80 MPs and Peers have called for a £100bn investment in transport in northern England by 2050.

A cross-party group of politicians from the North has written to the chancellor asking for regional road and rail links to be improved in time for the proposed arrival of HS2 in 2032.

The letter said the money was needed to "reverse decades of underinvestment".

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the North would get the "lion's share" of future transport investment.

The letter's author, Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton and the co-chair of the Northern Powerhouse all-party parliamentary group, said the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) plan was at a "critical stage".

Media caption,
Passengers in Liverpool say Northern Rail services are "abysmal"

The plan, once described as HS3, is focused on cutting rail journey times, particularly east to west across the North.

It would see new high-speed lines between Manchester and Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds as well as upgrading existing lines between Leeds and Hull and Sheffield and Hull.

How an £85m bridge created a "bottleneck"

Image source, Network rail
Image caption,
The Ordsall Chord cost £85m

The government created a "rail bottleneck" in Manchester despite spending £85m on a new rail link in the city, Greater Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham has said.

He said a freeze on rail projects by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling meant stations near the Ordsall Chord rail link, which connects Manchester's three main stations, did not receive the extra spending on capacity they needed.

He said "The new timetable that came in is trying to pour more trains into the bottleneck of Manchester city centre than it can cope with.

" I'm afraid there has-been a real lack of joined-up thinking from the Department for Transport. They spent a fortune on the Ordsall Chord, but they didn't spend the extra money needed on the capacity through Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations."

Mr Hollinrake said: "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."

Signatories to the letter include a number of Tory MPs representing northern constituencies at a time when Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has come under fire for his handling of recent changes in Northern Rail's timetable, which saw trains cancelled and disruption across the network.

Urgent action

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has estimated businesses have lost almost £38m because of Northern Rail disruption.

Labour's Caroline Flint, another co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group and a former minister, said the demanded £100bn investment was "a must-have for the people of the North".

"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," said Ms Flint, whose Don Valley constituency is in South Yorkshire.

"It is simply not good enough and needs urgent action to address the North's outdated transport network."

Speaking on a visit to Leeds, Mr Grayling said that it was "a myth to say London gets a lot more money".

"Actually the independent figures produced for government now show that investment in the North per head of population is greater than in the South," he said.

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