Chancellor promises £400m for northern rail and roads

Philip Hammond pledged more support for transport projects across the North in his speech to the Conservative party conference today. In announcements generally welcomed by commentators, he said an additional £300m would be invested in the rail network to 'future proof' HS2 for Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect services. A further £100m of development funding from the National Productivity Fund will go towards 33 road schemes across the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside and the North East, he said.

Commenting in response to the announcement, Dr Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive of ACE, said: "This is a very welcome announcement that shows the government recognizes the importance of infrastructure investment and is listening to the industry. ACE has been lobbying the Treasury for a commitment to northern rail in the budget and we have been successful in our endeavor. The rebalancing of the UK economy is vital for the long term prosperity of the UK and ACE will continue to make the case that we can only continue to be a world leading economy if we invest and maintain a world class infrastructure network."

Hammond's announcement has been welcomed by Transport for the North as a welcome and significant step in realising TfN's wider Northern Powerhouse Rail plans for improving connections between Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, York and Hull.

'We look forward to continuing to work with the government and partners to ensure that future growth in services is planned for when designing these vital connections. This will include further work on the arrangements at Manchester Piccadilly and we are pleased that the Chancellor recognises the importance of keeping all options open,' TfN's statement said.

TfN's Northern Powerhouse rail director, Nick Donovan, added: "We are happy with the announcement. It puts us ahead of where we expected to be at this time and confirms a broader commitment from government to widen out the work being done on HS2 to make more of how it connects with other services. These touch-points will be important for improving commutes to northern cities."

Next year TfN will present the business case for significant new infrastructure for the Northern Powerhouse Rail project – an overall upgrade described as HS3 or Crossrail for the North by others. "The real win will be getting 130 times more people within an hour's journey of one of the four cities of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and York. Our analysis shows this is key for the north's productivity," Donovan said.

The chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis, also responded to the Chancellor's announcement: 

"Today’s funding is a welcome boost for rail connections across the North of England, helping to ensure we can make the most of the economic benefits that HS2 will bring and improving travel times for passengers," Adonis said.

“It is essential we improve transport across the North to secure economic growth for the region, and that’s why we also want to see real progress on HS3, which would do even more to improve connections between our great Northern cities.”