Northern leaders call for clarity on NPR in Autumn Statement
Chancellor Philip Hammond has been urged to make Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) a top priority and clarify when it will be delivered in tomorrow’s Autumn Statement.
Mayoral candidates and council leaders representing the north’s major cities wrote to Hammond asking him to use the statement to “make a firm commitment” to Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) as “a major transport priority”, and provide a “clear and expedited timetable” for its completion.
In light of the pressure on resources, the letter asks Hammond to stress that NPR is a higher investment priority than Crossrail 2.
The letter is signed by Andy Burnham MP, Labour candidate for mayor of Greater Manchester; Steve Rotheram MP, Labour candidate for mayor of Liverpool; Tony Lloyd, Interim mayor of Greater Manchester; Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council; Cllr Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council; Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council; and Cllr Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council.
Burnham said: “Decades of unfair allocations from the transport budget have left the north with an inadequate rail system and motorways that are at saturation point.
“If people in London and the south east had to put up with the north's transport system, there would be protests in the streets. It is our turn to come to the front of the queue for transport investment and that must start this week.”
The leaders argued that NPR would fulfil the “urgent” need for a credible plan to improve transport infrastructure in the north and boost the UK economy following plans to leave the EU.
They added that the HS2 phase 2 route announcement, made last week, should be the cue to show “the same clarity and urgency” in delivering NPR. At RTM’s recent TransCityRail North dinner, David Brown, CEO of Transport for the North, argued NPR makes the HS2 business case even stronger: “It’s not one or the other.”
The letter argued that without NPR, HS2 risks becoming “a magnet” to draw workers and industry away from the north towards London and widen economic divisions.
Earlier this year, think tank IPPR argued that the EU referendum vote meant that NPR must be prioritised over HS2 and Crossrail 2.
Writing for The Sun at the weekend, Hammond suggested that the Autumn Statement will include increased transport investment, saying: “Our roads, rail, and housing all need an injection of cash to boost Britain’s growth.”
(Image c. Danny Lawson from PA Wire/ PA Images)
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