Government urged to back £5bn Northern infrastructure pipeline

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Transport for the North (TfN) has urged the government to back plans for a £5bn pipeline of infrastructure projects to underpin greener Northern growth

Transport for the North (TfN) has set out its initial proposals for a Northern Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) – a 30-year investment plan of infrastructure projects to underpin greener Northern growth.

The £5bn pipeline includes rail, road, active travel and smart ticketing proposals.

Some of the plans could be started over the next 6-18 months to help the economy ‘build back better’ after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pipeline could also help create around 20,000 construction and design jobs in the North of England.

The Northern Infrastructure Pipeline underpins TfN’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) recently agreed by the North’s business and civic leaders.

The ERP is aimed at accelerating the delivery of infrastructure projects to help “rebuild and transform the North” by making transport more accessible and inclusive, and decarbonising the economy in the years to come.

It is split into the key areas of:

  • Schemes that can be delivered within 6-18 months: Immediately supporting jobs and the region’s recovery
  • Schemes that can start construction within 2-4 years: Supporting longer-term economic recovery and rebuilding
  • Schemes where immediate investment in accelerating the development of projects would support jobs, boost confidence and maintain an ongoing Northern Infrastructure Pipeline to transform the North.

It’s also aimed at rebuilding and transforming the capacity and resilience of the North’s rail network and laying the groundwork for projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail to future proof the region’s railway for generations to come.

It highlights the need for accelerating the green transition, including pilots of hydrogen and battery-powered trains, as well as rolling out essential charging infrastructure from electric vehicles.

Rebuilding the North’s economy

Barry White, chief executive at Transport for the North, said: “Our focus must be on rebuilding the North’s economy, which was already at an economic disadvantage to the South before Covid-19 hit.

“Our Economic Recovery Plan outlines quick-fire ways to rapidly invest in shovel-ready infrastructure projects and initiatives, helping rebuild and transform the North over the next few years.

“We believe that’ll not only deliver an economic prize, to the tune of 20,000 jobs and a return of £3 for every £1 spent but – more importantly – a social return.

“It’ll help better connect communities, slash carbon emissions from transport in the North and support people in living healthier lives.”

White added: “Crucially, these aren’t new or over-ambitious asks. They’re projects already in the system that now need the starting gun firing or a bit of work to nudge them across the line.

“We have welcomed the government’s ambition to accelerate projects and this is a great opportunity for its recently formed Northern Transport Acceleration Council to drive forward the delivery of projects. This sets up a great combination – Transport for the North using its local knowledge to identify projects and Government using its political heft to push forward delivery.

“The Economic Recovery Plan, and the Northern Infrastructure Pipeline within it, is aimed at how we rebuild and transform the North.

“It shows Northern leaders coming together at a time of national crisis and putting a united, pragmatic plan to our partners in Government, outlining some of the priority projects and when they could be delivered with the right will and collaboration.”

‘Put this plan into action’

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport lead, said: “The North has faced decades of underinvestment in infrastructure and rectifying that will be central to the way we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This economic recovery plan and the Northern Infrastructure Pipeline will not only help the North rebuild our economy, but also help rebalance the UK economy and deliver for our communities.

“We know that the way people access and use public transport has changed during the pandemic, but the fundamental challenge to build capacity and reliability into the transport network remains and must be addressed to truly transform the North.”

Steve Rotheram, metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region, commented: “It’s essential that we start to rapidly Build Back Better and address the legacy of historic under-investment in the North’s transport infrastructure.

“I’ve been making the case for a high quality, London-style integrated transport system that passengers in the Liverpool City Region desperately need and deserve.

“The Economic Recovery Plan has solid proposals for how we make a start in delivering that.

“I urge the government to make good its commitment to do whatever it takes and work with us to put this plan into action.”

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