Lancashire

Lancashire sets out 'Northern Powerhouse' transport plan

Preston train station Image copyright David Dixon/Geograph
Image caption Redeveloping Preston railway station is one of the top priorities in the report

A new transport plan aiming to create £685m in economic growth and 15,000 new jobs in Lancashire has been proposed by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

The plan outlines how the region could benefit from government investment in the Northern Powerhouse by improving transport links to neighbouring areas.

The 48-page report calls for investment in the county's railways and roads.

Much of the plan is not yet funded and proposals would need approval from the government and partner organisations.

The "strategic transport prospectus" argues that investment in transport connections could transform Lancashire into a gateway to the rest of the north.

'HS2-ready'

It outlines how the region can build on government proposals for HS2 and HS3 high-speed rail links to better integrate Lancashire into the Northern Powerhouse transport network.

The report suggests this would then lead to investment in Lancashire's towns and cities.

Leader of Lancashire County Council and chair of the enterprise partnership's transport committee, Jennifer Mein, said redeveloping Preston railway station was a priority.

She said they had "really ambitious plans" to make the station "HS2-ready", which could create "up to 7,000 new jobs".

"We're going to spend a lot of money on it... a lot of money that we will have to get from the Northern Powerhouse, from the Transport for the North partnership."

She said the M6, M61, M65 and M55 motorways were "areas where we can show vast improvements and allow jobs to be created".

Ms Mein also said work to make a "smart-ticketing" system that enables people to use one card to use all forms of public transport was under way.

The report comes as Lancashire County Council plans to withdraw all subsidies for bus services by April and campaigners warn that cuts are threatening rural bus services.

The Northern Powerhouse is a government initiative to corral the North's population of 15 million into a collective force that could begin to rival that of London and the South East.

Lancashire has not requested a regional devolution deal from the government unlike other northern big city-regions such as Greater Manchester and Liverpool.

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