Monday, March 23, 2015

News: Transport strategy provides "once in a lifetime opportunity" for the North

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A new report setting out a transport strategy for the north of England has been described as a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform Northern growth, rebalance the country's economy and establish the North as a global powerhouse.

One North, a strategic proposition for transport in the North, brings together the city regions of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, has worked alongside the Government and organisations such as Network Rail and Highways England to set out how long-term investment programmes in transport are crucial to transforming the economy of the North.

The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority has been leading on the rail work stream for Transport for the North. The interim report discusses options for accelerating construction of the HS2 line in the North; achieving 30-minute journey times between Manchester and Leeds and Manchester and Sheffield; exploring the option to create a new rail line across the Pennines from Manchester linking with HS2 between Sheffield and Leeds to create a high speed network between the three cities; exploring the option for a new rail line from Manchester to Sheffield along a similar route to the potential road tunnel which is also being explored; and 50-minute journey times between Sheffield and Hull.

The main highway option discussed for the Sheffield city region is the possibility of a major new road link under the Pennines between Sheffield and Manchester – to take HGV and other traffic out of the Peak District national park and protect the natural heritage. Also discussed are a series of upgrades to the A1(M) to improve journey reliability to distribution centres around Doncaster and Sheffield.

Also highlighted is the need to address unfair ticket prices across the north by examining new fare structures and options for smart ticketing.

Cllr. Julie Dore, Sheffield city region's Transport for the North Partnership board member and leader of Sheffield City Sheffield, said: "The Northern Transport Strategy provides a much-needed platform to improve infrastructure and connections across the North of England. Through the Strategy we have identified the transport needs of the Sheffield City Region, and how these may best be realised.

"Northern city regions have worked together with LEPs and Government to bring forward a proposal that will offer a once-in-a-generation-chance to make major and truly transformational improvements to the North’s transport systems. Enabling the use of devolved powers to revolutionise travel to and from the cities in the North and their surrounding City Regions, with infrastructure projects that are realistic, sustainable, and most importantly, enable economic growth.

"The Northern Transport Strategy proposals – such as significantly reduced rail journey times between cities, improvements to the Strategic Highway network in terms of capacity and resilience, a real and fundamental acknowledgement of the important role of freight, together with an investigation into accelerating the construction of the Sheffield to Leeds section of HS2 – will all be part of the Sheffield City Region's future success.

"It will create opportunities for the movement of people across the North of England, to better enable the sharing of skills and ideas through access to employment and business to business activity, cementing the North as a global centre for innovation and trade. The Sheffield City Region is well placed to maximise on the opportunities that the Northern Transport Strategy will provide."

A £12.5m development budget has been set to progress the proposals included in the report.

Northern Transport Strategy

Images: HS2 Ltd

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