Tuesday, August 5, 2014

News: Sheffield city region's place in One North

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One North, a strategic proposition for transport in the North, has been launched today by the city regions of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The challenge was laid down by Sir David Higgins in his report for the government on HS2 concerning the need for improved connectivity between northern cities and their connections to the international "gateways" - airports and ports, not just improved connections between North and South.

The proposition places a transformation of connectivity at the heart of an aim to maximise economic growth in the North.

For Rotherham and the rest of the Sheffield city region, this includes addressing trans Penine links between Manchester and Sheffield, via road and rail.

The headline figure is the ask from government for £10-15bn on "a new trans Pennine route, supporting high quality connections between the cities of the North."

A new 125 mph trans Pennine rail route is proposed by 2030, connected to the HS2 lines and the existing rail network, tunnelled as needed, linking the five city regions together with Manchester Airport and the ports. A new freight route across the Pennines is also being put forward.

The target is to reduce the rail journey times between Sheffield and Manchester to 30 minutes.

A call for increased capacity on existing Northern routes is included and new rolling stock is also called for in time for HS2, operating from hubs across the city regions and between them too.

An over arching theme is to ensure that South Yorkshire connectivity is enhanced to address key gaps in the strategic networks, better linking the adjoining city regions.

Also highlighted is improvements in the connectivity to Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, already underway with over £100m being spent to improve infrastructure including projects such as the FARRRS link road.

The leaders of the Northern city regions said in the document: "The 15 million population of the North is larger than London and almost as big as the Netherlands but our economy is not doing as well. Our ambition is for the North to be a dynamic counterweight and complement to the London and South-East economy, a destination of choice for investors, helping rebalance and grow the national economy in the decades ahead.

"Transport - for freight and people - is central to our ambition. Just as the transport networks in London and the Netherlands – internally, with surrounding areas and beyond – are fundamental for their economic success, transport is fundamental for the North. But journey times across the North are much slower, service frequencies are lower and the interconnectivity of our transport networks is much weaker.

"Transport connectivity across the North needs to change."

The chancellor George Osborne said this morning that he would set out in the Autumn Statement "a plan to build it, with a plan to pay for it."

Images: SYPTE / ARUP

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