Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North
HS2 – the plan to deliver a transformative high-speed railway linking the North with the Midlands and South – pre-dates the creation of Transport for the North, our partnership of civic and business leaders from all corners of our region. And a lot has happened since the blueprint for the project was first drawn up.
Firstly, that coming together of the North’s leaders as Transport for the North, providing one, commanding voice on matters regarding infrastructure investment, with statutory status. And importantly, the development of the Northern Powerhouse Rail vision to create a rail network that connects the North’s towns and cities like never before.
Today, as the Oakervee Review continues into HS2, these two factors are critical in ensuring we get the best outcomes for the people who live and work in the North. We’re united in our support for the project and don’t want to see the benefits to the North scaled-back. Meanwhile we have a credible and convincing plan to transform rail travel in the North that fully integrates the two schemes.
It’s not just about passenger numbers, or capacity, or journey times (although all would totally change the traveling experience in the North) it’s about the social and economic opportunities that together we know HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will bring.
What we’ve said to the Review panel…
We’ve been clear in our submission to the Oakervee Review that, now more than ever, the North needs certainty on its infrastructure future in order to get on and deliver these projects. In our submission to the Review (which you can read here), we’ve outlined how:
- We need to resolve HS2’s future without delay;
- Northern Powerhouse Rail must continue to be fully integrated with HS2;
- The Review should consider how best to minimise the impact of HS2 changes on plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail on our costs and delivery timeline;
- And that the North needs a clear role in the future development and delivery of HS2.
Our view is that the Review must, crucially, recognise that rebalancing the UK economy is central to securing our future economic prosperity and that this must apply to all parts of the North. It is essential that Yorkshire, the North West and the North East all have high speed connectivity – not just between each other (through NPR), but to the Midlands and beyond via HS2.
Why that’s important…
Our Strategic Transport Plan (which includes HS2) not only looks at rail, it details how you can better connect the whole of the North and in turn underpin close the oft-discussed productivity gap. In grand terms, making that plan a reality could help unlock almost £100bn GVA and 850,000 jobs for the North’s economy by 2050. Clearly impressive numbers, but for the people of the North what this really means is greater opportunities, both personal and professional. It means you will be able take that job that may have been just out of reach, or go to visit that family friend that you may normally put off because the journey is too long, or too difficult. It means businesses can more easily reach new markets and customers.
To achieve this, we need a clear and committed route of how to get there. We’ve been developing the case for Northern Powerhouse Rail – our vision for a £39bn network to include new lines and significantly upgraded routes. One that creates a turn-up-and-go, reliable service for passengers, whilst also freeing up capacity on existing routes for both freight and local services.
This plan is integrated with HS2, sharing infrastructure and services in parts and, as a result, increasing the connectivity benefits to our communities. The North is not an island, and onward connections to the Midlands, South, Wales and Scotland are an essential part of the mix alongside connections within the North.
Add to this our call for a Northern Infrastructure Pipeline – a £7 billion package of road and rail schemes that the North needs to be delivered in the early 2020s – and we begin to see both a short-term and long-term programme of investments.
The North is resolute in our position, that we need both projects to deliver on our ambitions, opening our communities up to each, the rest of the UK and beyond.
To read more about Transport for the North’s submission to the Oakervee Review, please click here