One of the most important aspects of the High Speed 2 project is that it has turned Westminster’s attention to the north and acted as a catalyst for some much needed, cross regional planning. Of course the rail links across the country from east to west need renewing, of course new roads are needed through the Pennines and certainly the links between Liverpool’s new super size container port and the wider transport network need serious attention. But only now are the wider economic arguments being made about the real benefits of better connectivity to the entire northern region. And this is where the new body Transport for the North has a vital role. Consisting of leaders from six northern city regions and national bodies such as the Highways Agency and Network Rail, the organisation has the potential to secure serious investment for the North of England matching the scale of London’s Crossrail. But only if TfN can prove that it is worth it for the UK.
Later this month TfN will report on its cross regional transport needs, building on the £15bn investment list published in August 2014’s One North report. But until then there is still a lot happening in the northern region. Last month I spent some time in Manchester for Infrastructure Intelligence magazine, reporting on devolution plans, investments by Transport for Greater Manchester, £multi billion developments underway in the North West by Peel Group, and examining the links between business and transport with Greater Manchester LEP chair Mike Blackburn. The full report is now in the hard copy March issue of Infrastructure Intelligence. .