How the Yorkshire floods have highlighted need for infrastructure improvements - Natalie Sykes

In my role as regional director, I travel the length and breadth of Yorkshire and the North East to meet with colleagues, make new acquaintances and champion the IoD as the voice of business in the North.
Natalie Sykes.Natalie Sykes.
Natalie Sykes.

The recent flooding in Yorkshire which has affected so many communities also demonstrates the limitations of the region’s rail links, raising questions about how best in the future to protect people’s homes and the infrastructure surrounding them.

Transport and infrastructure is a subject the IoD in Yorkshire and the North East returns to time after time. We have endeavoured to have our voice heard in the corridors of Whitehall along with many other and equally passionate lobbying groups.

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Which makes the recently launched NP11 Manifesto for the North very timely. It calls for a transport budget for the North, enabling full delivery of the Transport for the North plan and supporting the devolution of control and shared accountability for the region’s rail network.

One of the most recent improvements we have seen in the rail network is the arrival of the new Azuma fleet of train services in the North which are very much welcomed. They are a great addition to existing stock and provide extra connectivity, comfort and reliability for commuters.

In less than a month’s time, there will be six Azuma services each day between Harrogate and King’s Cross – providing substantial benefits at one of the busiest times of year.

However, transport and infrastructure policy encompasses much more than how many trains or buses we have running at any one time. It is about positioning infrastructure itself as a key competitive advantage, not just an enabler.

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That is why the IoD has announced a new ambassador for transport and infrastructure in Yorkshire and the North East. Dr Alan James is a former vice-president of Virgin Hyperloop One and has led Expert Alliance, a Northumberland-based specialist strategic infrastructure practice, since 2002.

He has more than 20 years’ experience in transport and infrastructure roles, including roles as project director for HS2, the Stoke Route and chief executive, UK Ultraspeed for Siemens/Thyssen Krupp.

Alan’s work explores how cities, regions and countries can gain strategic economic advantage though innovation in infrastructure and setting the agenda on the deployment of fast-evolving and rapidly converging technologies and systems that are redefining mobility.

Alan’s knowledge and passion, particularly for revolutionary, game-changing technology such as Hyperloop, will help us redefine our thoughts and strengthen our contribution to regional and national transport and infrastructure policy.

We are delighted to have him on board!

Natalie Sykes is regional director of the Institute of Directors in Yorkshire