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Government asked to invest £5bn in northern England

TRANSPORT for the North has unveiled its initial plans for a £5 billion ‘Northern Infrastructure Pipeline’, a 30-year investment programme which would support ‘greener’ growth in the region and boost Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Some of the projects, which include railways but also roads, active travel and smart ticketing, could be started as soon as next year, and according to TfN could help to create around 20,000 construction and design jobs in due course.

The Pipeline is being linked to TfN’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan, which was agreed by business leaders and politicians recently, and is intended to accelerate progress with new infrastructure schemes. The announcement from TfN has come just weeks after the Government unveiled separate investment of £589 million in Transpennine rail links.

TfN’s latest proposals are divided into schemes which would benefit from immediate investment, those which can be started within six to 18 months, and those which could be underway between two and four years from now.

Transport for the North chief executive Barry White 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. 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. 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 RMT’s senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch responded: ‘Investment to upgrade public transport in the North of England from the government is long overdue and the government  should be supporting a national strategy for mass investment in an expanded public transport network that is more frequent, reliable and  affordable to use and which can help kick start a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

‘Central to the plan should be the protection and expansion of public transport jobs and roles to make our network as accessible and safe as possible.’

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