Transport leaders urge Government to back new £5bn plan to ‘rebuild North’

Northern leaders have called on the Government to back a £5bn infrastructure plan that would underpin green growth and create 20,000 jobs for the region.

Transport for the North (TfN) has revealed its Northern Infrastructure Pipeline, a 30-year investment plan for rail, road, active travel and smart ticketing proposals – some of which could be started over the next six to 18 months.

It’s hoped to align with the Government’s plan to help the economy ‘build back better’ after the Covid-19 pandemic, and help create around 20,000 construction and design jobs in the North.

The NIP is hoped to underpin TfN’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) recently agreed by the North’s business and civic leaders, with today’s announcement the first tranche of 166 projects that could help create new job opportunities.

The ERP is aimed at accelerating delivery of infrastructure projects to help “rebuild and transform the North” by making transport more accessible and inclusive, and decarbonising the economy in the years to come.

Barry White, chief executive at TfN, said: “Our focus must be on rebuilding the North’s economy, which was already at an economic disadvantage to the South before Covid-19 hit.

“Our economic recovery plan outlines quick-fire ways to rapidly invest in shovel-ready infrastructure projects and initiatives, helping rebuild and transform the North over the next few years.

“We believe that’ll not only deliver an economic prize, to the tune of 20,000 jobs and a return of £3 for every £1 spent but – more importantly – a social return.

Barry White, chief executive at Transport for the North.
Barry White, chief executive at Transport for the North.
(Image: Transport for the North)

“It’ll help better connect communities, slash carbon emissions from transport in the North and support people in living healthier lives. 

“Crucially, these aren’t new or over-ambitious asks. They’re projects already in the system that now need the starting gun firing or a bit of work to nudge them across the line.

The pipeline is made up of projects ranging from major road improvements to pushing through plans for new railway stations across all parts of the North.

They have been split into the key areas of schemes that can be delivered within six to 18 months, two to four years, and projects where immediate investment would support jobs and boost confidence.

It’s aimed at rebuilding and transforming the capacity and resilience of the North’s rail network and laying the groundwork for projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail to futureproof the region’s railway for generations to come, highlighting the need for accelerating the green transition, including pilots of hydrogen and battery powered trains, as well as rolling out essential charging infrastructure from electric vehicles.

Mr White added: “We have welcomed the Government’s ambition to accelerate projects and this is a great opportunity for its recently formed Northern Transport Acceleration Council to drive forward the delivery of projects.

“This sets up a great combination – Transport for the North using its local knowledge to identify projects and Government using its political heft to push forward delivery.

“The ERP, and the NIP within it, is aimed at how we rebuild and transform the North.

“It shows Northern leaders coming together at a time of national crisis and putting a united, pragmatic plan to our partners in Government, outlining some of the priority projects and when they could be delivered with the right will and collaboration.”

Greater Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham
(Image: PA)

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, added: “TfN’s Northern Infrastructure Pipeline is an essential part of securing the North’s economic recovery after the pandemic is over.

“It is also a vital first step in addressing the legacy of the historic under-investment in transport infrastructure across the North.

“I call on the Government to take these proposals seriously and to work with us to deliver on the ambitions in this plan so we rebuild and transform the North for future generations to come.”