We need £120bn for Northern rail projects, say MPs and peers

Group, which includes Merseyside MPs Frank Field and Louise Ellman, says initial £39bn investment being considered by the Government would be just a ‘down-payment’ on what is needed. Tony McDonough reports

Lime Street station
Lime Street station in Liverpool. The whole North needs a £120bn rail upgrade, says the letter. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

More than 80 MPs and peers have written to the Government to offer a compelling case for investment of up to £120bn into the Northern rail network by 2050.

The group, which includes Merseyside MPs Frank Field and Louise Ellman, welcomes Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s commitment to examine the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR)  business case submitted by Transport for the North for vital rail infrastructure and improvements.

However, they say this should merely be a “down-payment” on the £120bn needed to fund projects such as HS2 and ‘Crossrail for the North’ as well as other vital upgrades for local networks.

New station

In the last few weeks Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has announced the creation of a Station Commission to examine the case for a new mainline station for Liverpool city centre that would built to handle high-speed rail.

Peel Ports is also keen to see investment in North West rail infrastructure as it looks to maximise the potential of its £750m Liverpool2 freight terminal on the banks of the Mersey.

On Monday, the group of more than 80 Parliamentarians sent a letter to the Chancellor to start the debate about what is needed in terms of commitment to the full Transport for the North Strategic Plan and devolved transport budgets to city and metro regions, as recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.

They say NPR should be delivered to the North alongside HS2, to create a high-speed network for the whole of the country and open up labour markets that are currently not accessible for young people across the North today.

They add that a commitment to NPR has to be part of a wider package of infrastructure to deliver a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebalance the economy and narrow the North-South divide.

HS2
HS2 is just one of the rail projects that the letter says would boost the Northern economy

 

One voice

The letter has been prepared at the request of the co-chairs of the Northern Powerhouse All-Party Parliamentary Group (NP APPG). The NP APPG is made up of Conservative and Labour MPs, peers, business and civic leaders who have joined together to allow the North of England to speak with one voice and increase the contribution the region makes to the UK economy. 

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The first down-payment we need on the overall long-term need of £120bn for major Northern Powerhouse specific transport and city region schemes is £39bn for NPR.

“Last week the Chancellor committed himself to the case for the economics behind the project – which have consistently been Government policy now for the almost five years since the Northern Powerhouse was first adopted.

“Business and civic leaders stand firmly behind our Parliamentarians on a cross party basis making the case for the key investment that the North needs, to grow our economy and close the North – South divide.”

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