Today’s proposals by IPPR North for a series of short-term, and relatively inexpensive, measures to improve matters are therefore to be welcomed as sensible, realistic and achievable.
They should be heeded by the Government and acted upon, because transport problems are costing businesses money that they can ill-afford.
Without in any way lessening the region’s legitimate claims for major investment in transport, the measures put forward deserve to be included in the Chancellor’s forthcoming spending review, in order that much-needed improvements can be made as early as next year.
Strategic infrastructure projects such as Northern Powerhouse rail will take decades to deliver, but in the interim the “quick wins” identified by IPPR North would make a difference for the better by addressing some of the worst difficulties.
Projects such as pressing ahead with the Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway rail station would both bring major benefits and signal that the Government is serious about helping the North achieve its economic potential.
Devolving a £400m project development fund to Transport for the North, as the IPPR urges, would be a start. The programmes put forward may be short-term fixes to long-term problems, but for all that they would help to mitigate the huge costs that businesses face from the shortcomings of a northern transport network which is struggling to cope.