OUR Prime Minister began the week by conceding that the North’s rail services were still not good enough. She can end it by promising to look favourably at the Budget submission being made on behalf of the whole region by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
Its two key demands are firstly, a commitment to build Northern Powerhouse Rail, a new high-speed line linking cities on both sides of the Pennines by 2032 when HS2 is due to arrive in Leeds and Manchester.
Secondly, a promise that Ministers will make available £100bn by 2050 to fund all those strategic road and rail projects left in abeyance because successive governments prioritised spending in London and the South-East.
The call for this second demand has just got louder, as it has been backed now by more than 80 MPs and peers from all parties
It doesn’t make sense not to give Transport for the North the powers and the money to fulfil its remit, and if they don’t then the Government’s investment in HS2 will not be returned in the way it could be.
As former Treasury minister Lord Jim O’Neill,a vice chairman of the NPP, says: “Affordable and quick trains connecting all key parts of the Northern Powerhouse, are vital to delivering on the goal of raising productivity both across the North, and with it, the country as a whole.”
It would be good to see Mrs May, or Chris Grayling, the under-fire Transport Secretary, who happens to be visiting Leeds Bradford Airport today, acknowledge that fact.
MPS demand £100bn to deliver transport revolution for north. Read more here