A collective of business and civic leaders from across the North of England has today written to the Government calling on it to back Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) in this Autumn’s Budget, saying it would create 850,000 jobs and bring about a transformational legacy of investment “the likes of which has not been seen before”.
The letter, signed by more than 50 key decision makers across the North, tells Government that a high speed rail network linking the North’s major cities, also known as HS3, is not only fundamental to the success of the north but to the success of the entire country.
It makes it clear to ministers that poor connectivity was proving prohibitive to attracting inward investment and comes after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling provoked consternation earlier in the Summer by signalling his support for Crossrail 2 while rowing back on commitments made for rail electrification projets in the region.
Among those to have signed the letter include Drax Power chief executive Andy Koss, Manchester Chamber of Commerce chief executive Clive Memmott and York College principal Alison Birkinshaw. It has been produced under the umbrella of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and is published 24 hours after it was revealed that 70,000 people have signed a petition calling on Government to back a high speed rail network for the North.
A major transport summit is due to take place in Leeds on Wednesday.
An extract of the letter seen by The Yorkshire Post reads: “Connecting our great cities of the North with a world-class, higher capacity rail network is not only fundamental to the success of the Northern Powerhouse, it is fundamental to the success of the entire country. We’re calling on you to back this success, and back NPR.”
Another section reads: “Implementing Northern Powerhouse Rail would be transformational for businesses in the North, driving productivity and attracting 850,000 new jobs to the region by 2050. It would create a transformational legacy of investment for the North of England the likes of which has not been seen before.”
Interestingly the letter’s authors also back Crossrail 2, calling both schemes crucial for the UK’s future prosperity.
“We are passionate believers that this is not just a Northern issue, it is a UK issue,” it reads.
“It should not be seen as Crossrail 2 in London versus Northern Powerhouse Rail; both schemes are vital for Britain’s future.”
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said a commitment in Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget would generate a great deal of good will towards the Government from a Northern economy wrestling with much uncertainty.
“The strength of feeling among the public on this matter is phenomenal,” she said.
“With Brexit the economy can only stand a certain level of uncertainty. NPR would allow skilled workers to find work all across the North without needing to relocate.”