A road tunnel could be constructed under the Peak District as part of plans to revolutionise the transport system in the north of the country.
Investment in a new ‘TransNorth’ rail system, faster journey times for commuters and new roads form part of the Government’s blueprint to build a ‘northern powerhouse’, aimed at bringing jobs to the region and boosting the economy.
The Northern Transport Strategy is a sensible list of priorities to boost connectivity between the north and the rest of the country.George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the East Midlands Chamber
The ambitious vision is set out in the new Northern Transport Strategy report released this morning (Friday), which details measures to invest in high speed rail, major improvements to the existing roads network and developing new east-west road connections including a road tunnel under the Peak District National Park.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, MP for the Derbyshire Dales, said: “This dynamic change, led by the Chancellor with northern leaders, transforms the way government looks at transport solutions for the north. No government has given such attention to the infrastructure of our great northern cities and how to deliver a world-class, integrated transport network for the north. The proposals announced today will reduce journey times while increasing capacity and connectivity, enabling growth.
“Creating a northern powerhouse of jobs, investment and prosperity, is a key objective of the government’s long term economic plan. We are planning for transport and growth in a new joined-up way. Today we set out a comprehensive strategy for the northern economy which will help the north pool its strengths.”
The report unveils a long-term strategy to link northern cities with a network of high-quality rail connections. The ‘TransNorth’ network - with sections capable of speeds up to 140 miles per hour - could slash journey times from Manchester to Sheffield and Leeds by 25 per cent, to just 30 minutes. New Oyster-style smart travel cards and simpler and streamlined fares would also be introduced across the region.
Other measures set out in the report include developing HS2 sooner the originally planned, expanding the M62 to four lanes between Leeds and Manchester, upgrading the M6 to four lanes, improvements to the A1 between London and Newcastle and widening of the M1 to four lanes through Yorkshire and Humber.
George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the East Midlands Chamber, said: “The Northern Transport Strategy is a sensible list of priorities to boost connectivity between the north and the rest of the country and the incoming Government has a duty to ensure the critical road and rail projects it contains are funded and delivered.”
However, Mr Cowcher he stressed the importance of a joined-up approach to delivering the strategy, adding: “In order to create a truly interconnected transport network for the UK, it needs to be complemented by a similar strategy for the Midlands which builds on the £5.2bn investment in the region announced in February.
“The Midlands is an important part of the UK economy. Good transport links are crucial to business. Widening the M1 and electrification of the railway between Derby and Birmingham will improve connectivity between the East Midlands, in particular, and other parts of the region and the rest of the country.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who is visiting Stockport later to discuss the strategy’ and announce the go-ahead of the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road, said: “Connecting up the great cities of the north is at the heart of our plan to build a northern powerhouse. This report has the potential to revolutionise transport in the north.
“From backing high speed rail to introducing simpler fares right across the north, our ambitious plans for transport means we will deliver a truly national recovery where every part of the country will share in Britain’s prosperity.”