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03.02.17

TfN: Better rail links to Northern ports would boost global appeal

Better rail and road links to airports and ports could have enormous benefits for trade and business growth in the north of England, an independent commission has said.

The Independent International Connectivity Commission’s (IICC’s) report stated that improved links could see 75 million air passengers travelling to and from the region by 2050 along with more freight being shipped in and out of the region, boosting the region’s economy and relieving pressure on the south.

The commission said that the region’s airport and ports are key assets for the region but a lack of railway access is holding them back, with the north accounting for 25% of the UK’s population but only 15% of all airport passengers.

 “It’s clear that the north’s ports and airports are key economic assets for the region, with nearly 40 million passengers flying from the region each year and around a third of all UK freight using northern ports,” said John Cridland CBE, chair of Transport for the North (TfN) who led the IICC.

“Yet we know that the lack of access to and from our ports and airports is holding them back, with congestion on our roads and railways making it difficult for people and goods to reach international gateways.”

TfN said that inadequate ground transport links, combined with a lack of direct services to key international hotspots, mean that passengers to and from the north are often forced to travel via southern airports and ports, disincentivising potential business and leisure travellers to the region.

The report echoed the findings of the government’s recent industrial strategy green paper, which argued that airports in the north do not offer the same connectivity to global markets as their southern competitors, causing them to miss out on trade and tourism.

Cridland argued that policymakers must start promoting the north as a “destination of choice” by backing better rail infrastructure.

“Unlike in the south, where ports and airports are heavily congested, the north’s international gateways have unused capacity,” Cridland said.

“We believe international connectivity starts on the ground; by properly utilising available resources we can both boost the economy of the north and ease pressure on overloaded ports and airports elsewhere.”

In a number of detailed intervention suggestions, the report recommended improving links to airports and ports, along with the development of a ‘Team North’ structure to market the north.

The commission also said that by 2050 90% of long-haul passengers should be able to fly directly from the north to their international destination, compared to the current number at just 50%.

The commission’s report comes at an appropriate time for TfN as the body continues developing its long-term Strategic Transport Plan for the region in tandem with the government’s aviation strategy.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Lee   06/02/2017 at 15:08

"The commission also said that by 2050 90% of long-haul passengers should be able to fly directly from the north to their international destination, compared to the current number at just 50%" How does this aspiration stand when the Government wants to expand Heathrow to include a third runway?

Graham Nalty   07/02/2017 at 13:20

Improving rail links to ports and airports is crucial to the success of the cities in the North, and probably far more beneficial than the easy way out of making services to London faster.

Mikeyb   07/02/2017 at 15:34

The new Liverpool 2 container terminal recently opened, accommodating larger vessels with quick turnarounds, but Peel Ports and the freight operators seem to be somewhat slow in announcing new rail services. If nothing is arranged soon, it may be too late with all onward container traffic being transported on the already crowded North West road network.

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