Trident Building Consultancy has said HS2 and HS3 is not the answer to boosting the North’s transport infrastructure
Three directors from Trident Building Consultancy’s Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds offices detailed where investments should be made to improve the North’s transport infrastructure.
Keith Richards, director in Trident’s Leeds office, said: “While a faster line between Leeds and Manchester would be beneficial, this line already exists.
“I believe a better use of HS3’s £39bn cost would be links from York to Sheffield and from Birmingham to Newcastle, perhaps complementing existing lines to form a ‘northern crucifix’.”
Danny McEvoy, associate director in Trident’s Liverpool office, commented: “HS2 is of little benefit as it reduces the journey time from Manchester to London by only 15 minutes.
“Instead, a rail link between Scotland and Manchester would be of much greater value as the journey currently takes over four hours, no quicker than making the journey by road.”
After the government pledged to invest more in the region, political leaders in the North of England demanded a ‘Northern Budget’, including £7bn for the North’s transport infrastructure.
However, Keith Richards urges that the investment addresses the needs of northern towns above the needs of the northern cities: “The old industrial bases – Doncaster, Wakefield, Bolton, Rotherham and others still house a large proportion of the population of the north, and yet they could be left out as a result of HS3.
“In fact, they may suffer as a result of investment into rival conurbations. Relative to these towns, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield are prosperous.”
Richards added: “Some city centres desperately need better transport systems. For example, Leeds needs a tram or a better bus system to enable people to get to their place of work. This is also true of new developments outside Leeds. The towns to the north and west of Leeds need better, more localised, rail links.”
Connectivity goes beyond transport
As well as boosting the North’s transport infrastructure, high speed fibre optic broadband is required to attract large companies to northern towns and cities
Richards explains: “Sky Betting and Gaming, Channel 4, the new Government Hub and the legal and financial sectors would not have located themselves in Leeds were it not for the ability to access broadband.
“But there is a reliance on BT to provide fibre optic broadband. This should be something that the government is investing in.”
From a Liverpool perspective, Danny McEvoy agrees: “There is a real lack of investment in broadband. We’re currently working on an office building on Castle Street in Liverpool’s business district where there’s no fibre optic broadband.
“The client is having to put their own line in at an astronomical cost. For the majority of new office builds, it’s included as part of the development, but refurbs aren’t getting the upgrade and so many office buildings are missing out on what is a necessity.”
Pete Ewbank, senior associate director in Trident’s Manchester office, said: “Even in Deansgate in Manchester there’s no dedicated line. Having to put in your own line can push costs up from £50 a month to £500.”
Ewbank also made the link between better connectivity and achieving greater sustainability: “Better internet connectivity would enable us to reduce the number of meetings and removes the need to travel at all in some cases.”
Currently the North East, the North West, and Yorkshire and Humber receive €380m (£327m) from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).
The government has said it will replace the ERDF and ESF post-Brexit with a Shared Prosperity Fund which is likely to be split equally across England.