NPR boss backs £37m NPR Budget pledge: ‘What we asked for is what we’ve got’

The director of Northern Powerhouse Rail has supported the government’s commitment to NPR, arguing that the Budget funding announcement shows Westminster’s confidence in the scheme.

Tim Wood, NPR director at TfN, said the UK is currently running “like a plane with one engine,” and further investment into HS2 can unlock the potential of the northern regions, boosting the economy.

Last week in the Budget, chancellor Philip Hammond announced he would be pledging £37m to the NPR fund as part of the government’s agenda to give “power back to the people, and fire up the Northern Powerhouse.”

Speaking to delegates at the HS2 Economic Growth Conference in Solihull yesterday, Wood said: “I think what’s really important to remember is in the last budget Northern Powerhouse Rail was given £60m over four years. This year, we were given £37m for the year ahead. So, we can really see the programme growing. What we asked for, and what we got, is exactly the same.

“And what that says to me, is the government has confidence with what we’re doing, and how we’re going forward. It is not going to be the older days of ‘let’s do it and let’s hope it will all work out.’

“This is really well-thought out; it’s all evidence-based, and that is a really important thing to take in.”

Some raised concerns about the longevity of the funding, including chief executive of the National Infrastructure Commission Phil Graham:

Wood noted that the combination of sustained funding to both HS2 and NPR is “vital.”

He said: “They are vital, and we need to build them together. We will be in a real pickle if we don’t have HS2. HS2 gives the north and Northern Powerhouse connectivity.

“The trains are purely an enabler—an enabler that brings large amounts of people across the country. It allows us to say to businesses in the south ‘come up to the north, come and establish yourselves here.’ ‘European businesses, come and establish yourselves in the north.’ We have a workplace, that’s ready and able to work.”

“We cannot have a northern economy carry on the way we are. This country is a plane running on one engine, and that engine is the south east engine. HS2 and NPR, joining the six major cities together, and also key economic centre of the north, will actually rebalance the economy of the north.”

Tim Wood was a keynote speaker at TransCityRail 2018. Click here to attend TransCityRail North 2019.

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