£15bn transport improvement plan

Press Association
Winter weather Jan20th
Winter weather Jan20th

A £15 billion plan urging major improvements in transport across the north of England will be presented to Chancellor George Osborne later today, two months after he made a speech saying northern cities should be a future "powerhouse" of the economy.

The One North report, compiled by cities including Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, proposes a 125mph transpennine rail link aimed at cutting journey times between Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported.

It said the investment plan looks to the next 15 years and calls for improved access to ports, spending on motorways and new freight and logistics terminals.

Mr Osborne, who will be presented with the report in Manchester, gave a speech in Liverpool in June announcing a multi-million pound investment in transport upgrades and a new University Enterprise Zone in the city.

Speaking about the proposals in today's report Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield told the Evening Post: "Getting the right investment in our transport systems would deliver unprecedented change to better connect people and jobs, which is crucial if we also want to rebalance the national economy.

"This report demonstrates once again that only through tackling our out-dated transport system will the North be able to fulfil its true economic potential, benefiting our own local communities and the country as a whole."

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Labour Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the Government could not forget the North if it was serious about rebalancing the economy.

He said: "When we talk about economic powerhouses, Manchester and Liverpool, if you just take those two cities in the North together, of course we are one economic powerhouse, it is just we haven't got the connectivity."

He said £350 million was being invested in building a superport which will allow freight from the east to come directly to the UK.

Mr Anderson went on: "We want the capacity, the ability to ship that freight further north, east and across to Hull and the Humber.

"It's right that if we are seriously talking about rebalancing the economy, that we have to create better connectivity between our northern cities.

"It will not only help northern cities, it will help the UK economy."

Shadow Treasury minister Shabana Mahmood said: "We welcome this report and the city regions of the North of England working together to strategically plan to deliver the growth and jobs we need.

"But only Labour will properly back our city and county regions with ambitious plans to devolve more funding and economic power to them.

"George Osborne will be judged on his actions, not his words. He is failing to back the Heseltine report or Labour's plans to devolve billions of pounds of funding. Infrastructure output has fallen by over 12% since 2010. And the Chancellor has refused to back our proposal for an independent infrastructure commission to end the dither and delay on long-term decisions."

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