Ministers urged to back plans for £5 billion northern infrastructure pipeline

The Government has been urged to back a 30-year investment plan for infrastructure projects in the north of England.

A cross-party group of northern leaders has asked ministers to support proposals for a northern infrastructure pipeline (NIP) with the ambition of creating 20,000 jobs in the region.

Projects would include development of rail and road infrastructure, as well as taking forward active travel and smart ticketing plans.

The proposals were brought forward by Transport for the North (TfN) and are designed to underpin the group’s proposed economic recovery plan (ERP) agreed by the North’s business and civic leaders.

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham

TfN has indicated that some of the projects earmarked could be started in the next six to 18 months as part of efforts to help the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, a member of TfN, said that the pipeline would be a “vital first step” in addressing historic under-investment in the region.

He said: “TfN’s northern infrastructure pipeline is an essential part of securing the North’s economic recovery after the pandemic is over.

“It is also a vital first step in addressing the legacy of the historic under-investment in transport infrastructure across the North.

“I call on the Government to take these proposals seriously and to work with us to deliver on the ambitions in this plan so we rebuild and transform the North for future generations to come.”

Barry White, chief executive at Transport for the North, said that the tasks outlined by the group are not overly-ambitious.

“Our focus must be on rebuilding the North’s economy, which was already at an economic disadvantage to the South before Covid-19 hit,” said Mr White.

“Our economic recovery plan outlines quick-fire ways to rapidly invest in shovel-ready infrastructure projects and initiatives, helping rebuild and transform the North over the next few years.”

He added: “Crucially, these aren’t new or over-ambitious asks.

“They’re projects already in the system that now need the starting gun firing or a bit of work to nudge them across the line.”

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokeswoman said: “People across the North rightly expect action, progress and ambition, and this Government is determined to accelerate improvements as we invest billions to level up the region’s infrastructure.

“Our integrated rail plan and the spending review will set out how investments can be delivered so that passengers across the North can experience better journeys and connections as quickly as possible.”