I welcome the government’s commitment to the TransPennine rail route—but we need to go much furtherby Kevin Hollinrake / September 1, 2019 / Leave a comment
Our transport system in the north has been woefully neglected compared to the south. There is no one railway line that connects the great northern cities, so it’s not just a case of hopping on a train to travel from one town or city to another. It involves changes, multiple stops en route and delays and cancellations. It’s not just new infrastructure that we need in the north—it’s better trains, more frequent services and more accurate communications.
Therefore, I was delighted that the new prime minister came to Manchester on his third day in office to talk about his huge and transformational northern agenda to improve rail and bus transport, broadband connectivity and local accountability through directly elected mayors. Boris Johnson pledged to fund a new train line across the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds. And he didn’t just talk about the main northern cities but smaller towns, villages, rural and coastal areas, many of which can be found in my constituency of Thirsk and Malton and all of which need their fair share of funding.
We need massive investment in the north. That is why I have joined my fellow MPs in calling on the government to prioritise northern infrastructure in the spending review this year. There has been some progress: we welcome the government’s £3bn investment commitment to the TransPennine rail route and TransPennine Express’s fleet of new Nova 1 trains, which will mean more carriages and extra seats for passengers. But we need to go much further—a £7bn northern infrastructure pipeline to enable road and rail schemes that will transform the way people travel and do business. We also want a long-term commitment of up to £39bn to complete the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, which will ultimately directly connect Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
For too long and under governments of all persuasions, the north has suffered from a significant underinvestment in transport infrastructure. Although the current government is allocating more to the region from central coffers, when local authority and private sector investment is taken into account around three times as much is spent in London on a per-capita basis. This shameful underinvestment is the single most important factor in holding the north back—to the nation’s detriment.
My colleagues and I…