North ‘needs a big hitter’ to champion transport projects

Library picture
Library picture
Have your say

A LANDMARK report to be published in Leeds this week will call for the construction of a ‘Northern Crossrail’ scheme to slash journey times between cities across the North.

After an 18-month study assessing how to kick-start growth outside of London and the South East of England, the Northern Economic Futures Commission will make a series of recommendations to Government in its new report on Friday.

The commission, set up by the IPPR North think-tank and comprising business and public sector leaders, will call for a Boris Johnson-style figure to be put in place to speak with one voice for the North.

It wants a ‘Metro Mayor’ with new devolved powers should lead every major city, and an overarching ‘Northern chair’ to speak up for the North in the way Mr Johnson does for London.

The commission will also say a ‘Transport for the North’ body is needed to take over rail lines, bus regulation and Highways Agency responsibilities, and to drive forward infrastructure schemes such as a new ‘Northern Crossrail’ line from Liverpool to Newcastle.

The ‘Transport for the North’ idea was first floated in Parliament earlier this week by IPPR North director Ed Cox.

Mr Cox said yesterday:” “London’s Mayor has been a driving force within the corridors of power to win more powers for London and to get Londoners’ voices heard when it comes to big national transport projects.

“The North needs a big hitter who can ensure the North ‘speaks with one voice’ and can bang the table at Westminster on the issues that matter most to the people of the North of England.

“Londoners can see the impact Transport for London has had every time they use their Oyster Card to go from train, to tube, to bus.

“A new ‘Transport for the North’ could co-ordinate big transport infrastructure projects, like a ‘Northern Crossrail’, to cut the journey time from Liverpool to Newcastle in half.”