Transport campaigners demand Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 start together

A collection of northern mayors, MPs, and business leaders have come together calling for a major overhaul of the northern rail network to ensure the north of the country does not get left behind.

A campaign launched by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) is calling on the government to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail at the same time as HS2 Phase 2B, which is expected to open in 2032/33. 

It’s argued that improving transport links between big cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Bradford would mean the north-south divide does not widen in the coming years. 

Westminster has failed the north and given us a transport system that is simply not fit for the future. People here are no longer prepared to put up with packed-out roads and clapped-out trains that we've endured for decades."
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

NPP vice-chair Lord Jim O'Neill said: "Getting Northern Powerhouse Rail delivered to the recommendations of Transport for the North is crucial for the success of the Northern Powerhouse.  Without connecting as quickly and efficiently as possible the many closely-located towns and cities of the Northern Powerhouse, it will not be able to create the agglomeration benefits that would transform the economy of the UK, never mind just the north. Indeed, by doing it, the financial investment justification for central government would vastly exceed the usual cautious value for money criteria, and be one of the most exciting things for post Brexit Britain, notably for an area that has many disillusioned voters.”

Decision-makers in the north claim that thousands of new jobs and increased overseas investment could be just two of the benefits created by cutting journey times to cities and towns. To make this happen, the NPP is requesting a redesign for Manchester Piccadilly to create an underground station and a further NPR station in Liverpool, alongside HS2, which would help create 20,000 new jobs and generate £703m for the economy.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: “Westminster has failed the north and given us a transport system which is simply not fit for the future. People here are no longer prepared to put up with the packed-out roads and clapped-out trains that we’ve endured for decades. We need the government to deliver east to west Northern Powerhouse Rail alongside HS2, with a revamped Manchester Piccadilly station at its heart.”

Liverpool city mayor Joe Anderson said: “Investing in our infrastructure across the whole country is a must - we must be bold and create a network of connected cities. We cannot pause this process, as it would slow down growth and investment in those areas left out. Not connecting Liverpool directly is a missed opportunity and shows a lack of vision.”

Commenting on the calls, Jonathan Moore, Arcadis city executive for Manchester, said: “Delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail at the same time as HS2 could be game-changing. Cities like Liverpool and Manchester are already amongst the most attractive in the UK for inward investment, and any measures that support mobility and bring new skills into the region can only be a good thing. Northern Powerhouse Rail will also play a pivotal role in turning the heads of businesses and creating much-needed jobs across the region. It is essential that we focus on making the nation’s economy less dependent on the south east, instead helping to accelerate balanced growth across the country by realising new sources of competitive advantage for the north.”

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