HS3 success key to closing bleak north-south divide, says IPPR

Success with HS3 is key to readdressing the imbalance in investment between the north and London, influential think tank IPPR North has argued.

In the report written by researcher Grace Blakeley, it was reported that the north is experiencing a “chronic lack of investment” in its transport infrastructure compared to London, and that the greatest benefits of HS3, or Northern Powerhouse Rail, would come “when an integrated, north-wide strategy is delivered”.

Blakeley’s findings focused on the revelation that London received more than half of England’s £32.7bn transport spending, and that the capital’s new east-west rail line Crossrail will cost £4.7bn in 2016-17 alone – compared to the £6.6bn that was spent in total across every single transport project in the north this year.

It goes on to recommend that given the huge financial benefits of HS3 of around £60m a year – as well as the wider positive benefits that will result from economic growth around the project – there was a clear case for investment that could be financed through municipal bonds, which would raise capital on the pensions market for northern infrastructure projects.

“It currently takes longer to travel by train from Liverpool to Hull than from London to Paris. Building better links between the north’s cities will boost the nation’s economy by driving up northern productivity,” said Blakeley.

“The spending gap between London and the north remains huge but this is about more than money. The north needs to take back control over transport spending too, to sensibly invest in a range of northern infrastructure projects, and unlock more potential.”

She added that the private sector could help the local authorities through the credit rating process, in order to ensure they get the best deal.

IPPR North director Ed Cox also commented: “There is a long, long way to go to rebalance the UK but these figures suggest we’re seeing the green shoots of the Northern Powerhouse idea being more than mere bluster.

“We must however make more progress like this if we want to see spades in the ground any time soon. Britain is tasked with overhauling our economy after we leave the EU, and our report details how exactly we pay for this vital project – northern prosperity is national prosperity.”

The think tank has previously argued that HS3 should be prioritised over Crossrail 2 and HS2 given the Brexit vote as part of a proposed ‘North First’ strategy for transport spending – a call with which 72% of around 453 RTM readers agreed. Other organisations, such as Greengauge 21, have also called for the northern leg of HS2 to be built before the London-Birmingham phase in the past. 

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Jimbo   20/02/2017 at 17:48

I am sick of the people in the North whining about how much is spent on London's transport. The reason why far more is spent in the south is because there are far more people travelling in the south, and they are paying far more than their northern counterparts. it is very disengenous to compare the times for a trip from Liverpool to Hull to London to Paris. It you look at a similar journeys, you will find they have similar times, For example, Weymouth to London, which is the fatest train on the SouthWestTrains network, is around the same distance and same time as Liverpool to Hull, but the ticket prices are around 50% higher (£124.50 compared to £86.50 for Anytime return). Another example, Liverpool to Manchester, 33 mins and £18.10, whilst Reading to London, 35mins and £46 (both Anytime returns), so 2.5 times higher. If the "North" wants their fares increased by between 50% and 250%, then they will get more transport funding. So if the "North" wants HS3, just figure out how you are going to pay for it and off you go.

Graham Nalty   21/02/2017 at 12:15

It seems that Jimbo misses the point and that is that the North has legged behind the South East in transport investment. And that does need to change. Transport is not simply about investing where the Cost To Benefit ratio based on DfT rules is highest, but where it is all about creating positive change and increased economic opportunities effectively. London suffers from chronic road congestion and investment in London should focus on providing the best public transport offering, especially in the outer suburbs and over 360 degree around Heathrow. The North needs faster rail services between the major cities, much greater capacity for commuting in the larger cities so that the cities can proposer. Investment in the jobs should be placed where it does the most to act as a catalyst for new jobs. investment should remove the barriers posed by rail services between large cities that manage marginally more then 30 mph end to end or those cities that are not connected by direct trains such as Leicester to Coventry, Northampton and Manchester, or Derby and Stoke to Liverpool or Sheffield to Bradford. There is a lot that needs to be done. Lets get started.

David   21/02/2017 at 14:25

To echo Graham's point - the emotive and unhelpful email from Jimbo has completely missed the point and is perhaps indicative of why transport spending has been so imbalanced in the UK for so long. The focus on London and the SE has left the country's economy broken. We all need to acknowledge that and address how we fix it. One way is to try and improve infrastructure spending around the regions to entice business and population away from London and the SE. In turn this frees up pressure on infrastructure down there as well as on schools, hospitals, housing and social services. This would become a virtuous circle standing some chance of rebalancing our economy and sorting out our embarrassing trade deficit. Those who complain about the North's 'whining' should look at our continental counterparts and ask why their regions and regional cities continually outperform their peers in the UK. To continue on as we have done, with massive overspending on infrastructure in the SE to the detriment of all other regions isn't sustainable and is demonstrably not working for the country as a whole. The point Jimbo makes around other similar journeys (and journey times) is valid and should be addressed. These issues are as true for the north as they are for the SW as they are for the midlands etc etc.

@Hs3ltd   21/02/2017 at 20:04

The business case and momentum for HS3 is growing every day. 'The North' won't be lagging behind 'The South' (on their historic rails) when we have @HyperloopOne

Lutz   22/02/2017 at 04:46

So says the IPPR but that organisation has muddied it's reputation in the past with it's selective analysis. The analysis is selective about the differences in the costs and the substantial differences in servicing of those costs by the end users. The level of investments required (and still under serviced) in London and the South East far exceed those in the area of TfL's remit. Investment for investment sake is wasted money. If the region is expecting more money from central Government, end users and tax payers in the region should expect to pay more so that Southerners no longer have to subsidise their trips.

Lutz   22/02/2017 at 05:07

"chronic ..." Why so? There is more money going into the region that is justified on BCR and demand, How can you claim benefits from HS3 when it is still not known what the proposal might tun into, Why only benefits with Northern-wide integration - what about integration with national transport, or is the intent to justify creation of a northern fiefdom? "focused on the revelation that London received more than half of England’s £32.7bn transport spending, and that the capital’s new east-west rail line Crossrail will cost £4.7bn in 2016-17 alone – compared to the £6.6bn that was spent in total across every single transport project in the north this year." Revelation? Over-priced, superficial analysis more like. Costs for Crossrail are elevated due to tunnelling; there is no such comparable project anywhere in all of Europe, not just the north of England. London also now handles 70% of journey ends on the national network, and an even larger number of people on its on internal networks. Where is teh analysis of that? "given the huge financial benefits of HS3 of around £60m a year" Utterly misleading statement. Where does this figure come from, what is based on (there is no HS3 proposal yet), when is it effective from (2030 figures?), is GBP 60m huge given the increased costs a major engineering project would place on local residential and commercial rates? I am sure there are more such claims, but they do not stand up to inspection, and one must ask what is the agenda of any party that would make such outlandish claims.

Jimbo   22/02/2017 at 18:48

I do not disagree that HS3 is probably a worthy project, my issue is that some people seem to think that whining about the lack of investment will somehow get them more money. I sympathise with the issues, but complaining that money is being spent somewhere else is just parochialism and lazy. Instead, get the projects properly defined and costed, lobby for the funds and get them built. If the BCR stacks up, the project will get funded over other projects, and if it doesn't then there is something to complain about. My other point is that there is a very limited pot of money for rail investment, and projects in the south have a better rate of return because passengers pay more for their tickets.

Huguenot   23/02/2017 at 09:24

The proposed section of HS2 from Warburton to Manchester could provide part of the route of HS3. A spur from Warburton to Liverpool would be needed, satisfying Liverpool's desire for direct connection to HS2 as well. As for Manchester to Leeds, bring back into rail use the modern Woodhead tunnel, I say! Throw out National Grid's cables or make them compatible with relaid rail tracks.

Mack   12/05/2017 at 15:36

Seems once again people are using data to mislead people. Lets get something straight here, the compolaint is over south east vs north not London vs north. Crossrail is not just a London project (even though the main expensive is in London) unless somehow we're now claiming London is several times bigger? If we are to continue having pieces that inflame this north vis south debate, can we please use some facts and stop misleading the less informed into believe the situation is something it isn't. Its also worth noting that that the claims of £4.7bn spend on Crossrail seems to be false. The whole project is costing around £16bn over a ten year project and that money is getting spent over that time. No way is suddenly a third of this money only being spent in one 12 month period. Its likely that the authors have confused the various civil engineering sections now officially being completed after years of work as actually only being built in the last 12 years. And why we are on it, the unfair spending of north vs south fails to account for how things are being funded. Lets take Crossrail for example. Approx 1/3 is taxpayers, 1/3 is loans to be paid by future users and 1/3 is paid by local taxes. So all of a sudden this project is generating a lot of its own money to build and not taking up as much public money as is being claimed. Funny how up north they are voting against this (see Manchester) yet complain bitterly when they don't get the same level of infrastructure investments. That's not to say the north doesn't need investment but claiming being at an disadvantage when the north wants it that way is quite frankly stupid and putting many off.

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