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Transport leaders in north call for 20-year investment plan

MEMBERS of Transport for the North are urging the National Infrastructure Commission to include a 20-year sustained programme of rail improvements for the English north and midlands in the forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan, rather than ‘piecemeal’ upgrades.

The Commission is providing evidence to the government as the Plan is prepared.

TfN says such a programme would help the north to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

It acknowledges the importance of Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2, but points out that smaller ‘local and regional improvements’ will also play a part, by improving capacity more quickly on the existing regional networks.

In its submission to the Commission, TfN says a ‘clear and coordinated investment plan’ is needed, along with ‘committed funding’. It also says TfN should be able to take part in deciding and completing the schemes.

TfN chief executive Barry White said: ‘We’ve strongly welcomed the Government’s passion for infrastructure investment in the North, and commitment to projects like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. It’s an agenda the North set. But there’s no point in doing it piecemeal. Now, more than ever, the North needs certainty on what rail schemes will happen and when, so that passengers and businesses can benefit as soon as possible.

‘We need an integrated and sustained 20-year pipeline of investment in our rail network. It’ll be a vital weapon to combat the COVID-19 economic shock and to secure a greener future. Better rail infrastructure could get people and the economy moving and, in the long-term, support a period of growth that creates more opportunities.’

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