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Rail connection to North of England vital for national economic prosperity

IPPR North, business and industry, economy, transport

Published date:  16 Jul 2012

Today’s announcements on northern rail infrastructure are a confidence booster for many northern businesses, according to the think tank IPPR North

IPPR North says that investment in the entire Northern Hub scheme, complementing the Trans-Pennine electrification and improvements to Midland Mainline and station capacity go a long way towards addressing the five Northern Rail Priorities identified by IPPR North’s Northern Economic Futures Commission earlier this year.

According to IPPR North analysis, prior to these announcements the Government was investing 86 per cent of its transport infrastructure budget on schemes located in London and the South East – the equivalent of £2731 per person in London and the South East compared to just £5 per person in the North East.

But IPPR North says that many of today’s announcements focus on connections in and out of London. The think tank argues that while connecting to the capital city is important it can be a double-edged sword for regional economic development sucking talent and investment into the capital, rather than dispersing it outwards.

IPPR North argues that east-west and inter-city connections will reap the biggest economic boost in the north. The think tank argues that not electrifying routes from Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Hull into York is a missed opportunity that will leave the North East increasingly isolated from the burgeoning Manchester-Leeds corridor.

IPPR North has consistently argued for changes to the transport appraisal process so that it accounts for the impact on the wider economy rather than just the individual users’ benefit. The think tank argues that there is also an urgent need to re-engineer the system of fares and subsidies to allow the north to break out of the cycle of dependency which has hampered strategic investment.

Geoff Muirhead, Chair of the Northern Economic Futures Commission said:

“The Northern Hub announcement is great news for the whole of the North meaning faster, more frequent trains right the way from Liverpool to Newcastle. We have consistently argued that decent infrastructure is critical to unlocking the potential of the northern economy and government seems finally to be getting the message.”

Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North and Deputy Chair of the Commission said:

“This is a vital stage in what are highly convoluted and drawn-out mechanisms for transport investment and all the indications seem to be pointing in the right direction. But only time will tell whether the actual investment matches the rhetoric and who will be the winners and the losers. We look forward to analysing the updated National Infrastructure Plan to see how far the north-south investment gap has really been bridged.”

Notes to Editors:

Today’s Department for Transport announcement is at: bit.ly/NqHKuj

The Northern Economic Futures Commission set out its five Northern Rail Priorities in March 2012: http://www.ippr.org/publication/55/8864/northern-rail-priorities-statement-five-priorities-for-immediate-action-and-investment?siteid=ipprnorth

IPPR North analysis of the National Infrastructure Plan is available in On The Wrong Track published in December 2011: http://www.ippr.org/publication/55/8411/on-the-wrong-track-an-analysis-of-the-autumn-statement-announcements-on-transport-infrastructure?siteid=ipprnorth

The Northern Economic Futures Commission was established by IPPR North in July 2011 to spearhead an ambitious programme of activity and research to look at the critical issues facing the economy of the North and set out a new approach to local and regional economic policy, driven by decision-makers in the north of England.

The aim of the Northern Economic Futures Commission is to articulate a ten-year strategy for long term and sustainable economic growth across the north of England. The Commission will publish its final report and recommendations at the end of the year.

The Northern Economic Futures Commission Interim report - Northern Prosperity is National Prosperity – is available on the IPPR website: http://www.ippr.org/publication/55/8992/northern-prosperity-is-national-prosperity-nefc-interim-report?siteid=ipprnorth.

Contacts

Ellie Geddes, 07513 479 336