LEP Column: Fast and frequent transport links are vital to prosperity

on right track: First Hull Trains' recent announcement of a �68m investment in new rolling stock will increase capacity by 50 per cent.
on right track: First Hull Trains' recent announcement of a �68m investment in new rolling stock will increase capacity by 50 per cent.
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The Humber is the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse. To maximise the opportunities it offers, and develop the local economy, fast, frequent transport services are vital to attracting investment and supporting our growth as the UK’s energy estuary.

Given our location midway between London and Edinburgh, we are a key transport and logistics hub. Within four hours’ drive, you have access to 40m consumers and 75 per cent of UK manufacturing. From the Humber ports, 320m customers on mainland Europe are within 24 hours travel. Few other locations offer as great a market reach.

The Humber’s excellent connectivity to Europe sits alongside relatively good transport infrastructure linking it to the wider North and the rest of the UK. However, some issues require addressing to help us accelerate growth, and the Humber LEP and its local authority and business partners are making progress on these.

Despite the “pause” in the wider trans-Pennine electrification project, our partnership with First Group and Hull City Council is continuing to make progress on the electrification of the line between Hull and the East Coast Main Line via Selby.

This is a vital project for Hull’s connectivity and First Hull Trains’ recent announcement of a £68m investment in new rolling stock, which will increase capacity by 50 per cent and run on either diesel or electricity, is very welcome.

The Humber is the UK’s busiest port complex, and set to attract new traffic as companies take advantage of the deep-water sites within our Enterprise Zone. Capacity on rail and road remains important to support this.

Work is underway on a rail gauge enhancement scheme from the South Humber Ports to Doncaster to enable larger loads to be carried, supported by the LEP’s Local Growth Fund allocation.

Successful bidding to the Local Growth Fund is also enabling access improvements to the Humberside International Airport, the UK’s second busiest heliport, which is currently undergoing major development including a 700-bed hotel, and the airport will be home to a National Training Academy, sponsored by BAE. As more travellers are set to use new airport routes for business and travel, one million passengers already pass through Hull’s ferry terminal annually, and there is the likelihood of welcoming more cruise ships if Hull City Council’s ambitious proposal to site a cruise terminal is successful.

Whilst port access improvements cross-country have been achieved, the LEP partnership will be continuing representations for an extension of the direct rail link from London to Lincoln up to Cleethorpes not only to serve the renewable operations but also the established South Bank chemical and energy sectors and Grimsby, Europe’s food town.

We are continuing to see the positive impact of the 2012 reduction of Humber Bridge tolls which cut the cost of commuting between the Humber’s major business centres and opened up new opportunities.

The LEP is also providing funding for a range of smaller transport improvements which will relieve congestion and enable new developments.

These include phase two of the Bridlington Integrated Transport Plan, the Stallingborough junction to enable the strategic development site to go ahead, carriageway improvement on Anlaby Road and bridge strengthening on Park Street, Hull to improve traffic flow from the city’s western approach.

A contribution is also being made for a new footbridge across the A63 Castle Street, Hull to provide safer, smoother access to the eastern docks and unlock the development potential of the city’s Fruit Market.

Infrastructure and connectivity are crucial to the Humber’s logistics offer for investment. So too is a skilled workforce. Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, with a £2m Local Growth Fund investment, starts work this autumn on building a major logistics training centre for careers in air, sea, rail and road transport.

It will be a single point of study for a diverse range of qualifications from forklift truck driving to piloting crew transfer vessels out to sea, all of which are vital to the Humber’s emerging renewables industry and helping consolidate the Humber’s status as the UK’s Energy Estuary.

With the Spending Review approaching, the LEP and its partners will continue to make the case for further investment in the Humber’s transport infrastructure – building on the progress that has been made and enabling future growth.

A critical logistics hub

The Humber is a critical transport and logistics hub:

- Busiest port complex in the UK

- Second busiest heliport in the UK

- 320 million mainland Europe customers within 24 hours

- 75 per cent UK manufacturing and 40 UK consumers within four-hour drive

- One million passengers pass through Hull ferry terminal annually

- 275,000+ passengers use Humberside International Airport annually

- Hull Trains is fastest growing passenger rail service with 50 per cent increased capacity in the pipeline

- First all-inclusive logistics training hub in UK to be built at Immingham to upskill local people