Six priorities for Yorkshire Day: Transport

Good transport connections are the lifeblood of any thriving economy and Yorkshire is no different. Spending on new roads as well as upgrades to our motorways in recent years have been welcome while new rail franchises and electrification promise to bring demonstrable benefits.

HS2: Train of the future

But these commitments are only small steps towards rectifying the long-term underinvestment in this region’s transport network and, as the experience of rail electrification shows, turning promises into delivery on the ground remains an often frustratingly slow process.

It will take projects such as HS2 and transpennine high speed rail to truly transform the experience of travelling to and from Yorkshire so critical to attracting investment and it is vital the new Government gives unambiguous backing to delivery of the former, in full and on its current timetable, while quickly moving to turn the latter from an aspiration to a detailed funded project with delivery dates. It is also time to decide whether the transpennine tunnel is truly deliverable.

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While wider connections are vital, for most Yorkshire people, the simple act of getting to and from work remains their biggest transport challenge and local bodies should be supported to create genuinely integrated and affordable networks. The recent decision on the trolleybus scheme leaves Leeds as one of the biggest European cities without a mass transport system, and while the next steps should be locally led, the Government should not walk away from its responsibilities.

Meanwhile, ministers should not ignore less eye-catching, but nevertheless important, measures which could dramatically improve the experience of Yorkshire commuters in the shorter term while major engineering projects are developed. These include making sure that all areas of the region have the power to franchise bus services where they think it is the best way of driving up standards and continuing to support the development of a smart-ticketing system for the whole of the North of England.