Northern Cities In Transport Funding Bid

Northern Cities Bid For Extra Transport Money


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

Five cities in northern England have outlined a £15 billion plan to be put in place for 15 years to improve transport links.

In their One North document, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle city councils argued that the creation of a 125 mph trans-Pennine rail link, as well as better access to Manchester Airport, would benefit the region, reports the BBC.

The projects have received preliminary backing from chancellor George Osborne, who pledged to support the so-called Crossrail of the North programme.

Speaking at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester, Mr Osborne described the One North plan as "affordable" and something that would contribute to the development of a "northern global powerhouse".

"Of course £15 billion is a lot of money - it's about the size of the Crossrail project in London. We have got £100 billion capital budget to the end of the decade. I think this kind of proposal is affordable," the chancellor said.

The proposals include a new tunnel for trains going across the Pennines, a more frequent inter-city rail service between northern hubs, improving road access and increasing freight capacity on the north's rail network.

Sir Richard Leese, Labour's leader of Manchester City Council, said the current issues facing the north were the result of "years of neglect and under-investment" from successive governments.

"East-west journeys take almost twice as long as equivalent journeys in the south and our rail links are too slow and uncoordinated," the politician said.

The news follows a study in June that showed 40 per cent of businesses considered infrastructure spending as a government priority.

Respondents to the Close Brothers Business Barometer found SMEs thought that improved road and rail links would improve their firm's chances of growing.

Mr Osborne has pledged his support for a number of large-scale infrastructure projects in recent years - including the expansion of Manchester's Metrolink service and the controversial High Speed 2 rail network from London to the north.

Expert Opinion
This is an interesting and positive development for small businesses based away from London, particularly as it comes just weeks after many stated in a poll how keen they felt infrastructure improvements were so critical to their chances of developing their offerings and potential expansion.

"While so much of modern business revolves around online services, it is still imperative for a number of sectors that links can be built across economic centres across the country.

"These proposals offer a positive step forward on the issue and we’re sure many SMEs will be keen to see the Government push forward with the plans and improve their chances of future growth and development."
Fergal Dowling, Partner