Transport plan includes delivering on NPR

Plans for future transport investment in West & North Yorkshire have been outlined in a 30-year year plan to drive economic growth.

Transport for the North launched the plan via a public consultation announcement aimed at improving connections across the North of England and closing the economic gap with the South. If successful, the plan could deliver a £100 billion boost to the economy and 850,000 additional jobs by 2050.  Seven ‘corridors of opportunity’ are identified in the plan that are key to achieving these aims.

The ‘Central Pennines’ corridor will improve east-west connectivity for some of the North’s important economic centres and assets in North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Riding and Hull and Humber through to Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool City Region. A complete list of improvements needed, according to TfN, has not yet been published but priorities for this corridor include making Leeds station HS2-ready and delivering on Northern Powerhouse Rail services. Delivering a rail-route across the central Pennines to prioritise freight, and improving the M65/A59 road corridor are also up there.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would see a new line connect Leeds with Manchester via Bradford, plus faster connections to Sheffield and Hull. An additional 344,000 businesses will then be able to connect with Leeds within 90 minutes and it is estimated that the impact of agglomeration between Leeds and Manchester alone would deliver an additional £60 million a year into the economy.  The Chamber has taken a particularly strong role in the campaign to bring a new high-speed rail line through Bradford.

The investment priorities are backed up by research that links the North’s prime capabilities in advanced manufacturing, digital, energy and health innovation. The cost of the 30-year plan is estimated to equate to less than £150 per northern citizen per year, or £2-2.3 billion per year.

This figure also includes spending which would already be expected as part of ongoing strategic transport investment in the North, with only £50 per person per year (£700-900 million per year) additional spending. Regional spend figures issued by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority for the four years from 2017 calculated that projected Government spend on strategic transport will be £1,039 per head for the three Northern regions (North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humber).

The consultation on the Strategic Transport Plan runs to 17 April with engagement events taking place in Leeds (5 March), Wakefield (2 March) and Bradford (21 February). A final version will be published later in the year.

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