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IPPR petitions for Crossrail North to rebalance ‘scandal’ of rail underfunding

An influential think tank has this week launched a petition to push the government to devolve powers to the local areas in order to construct a ‘Crossrail North’.

The petition follows the government ruffling feathers in the north after transport secretary Chris Grayling publicly announced that DfT was backing plans for Crossrail 2.

This was despite the fact that just days earlier, Grayling had cancelled three major electrification projects outside of London, whilst work on the TransPennine route also looks likely to be scaled back.

Think tank IPPR North has now launched a petition to lobby the government to change its direction to make infrastructure funding more fairly distributed across the country.

New analysis released alongside the report found that had the north received the same level of infrastructure funding per head as London over the last decade, it would have seen an extra £59bn raised. Public spending was around £282 per head in the north compared to the national average of £345.

Researchers also found that the situation was likely to get worse, suggesting that the new figures represented a “scandal” in infrastructure underfunding in the north.

In response, the think tank called for powers to be handed over to northern areas in order to fund the regional infrastructure required to make the north’s £300bn economy realise its full potential.

This amount of money would have been equivalent to a new east-west ultra-quick rail line the same size as HS2.

“This is a national scandal,” said Luke Raikes, IPPR North senior research fellow. “In most other advanced countries, decisions about transport investment are made locally or regionally, where people really in the know about local problems decide exactly what’s needed.

“But in Britain, our Whitehall-knows-best attitude leads to the capital being the government’s default option for more funding.”

Raikes also claimed that devolving funding for regional infrastructure would help fix Britain’s broken economy by closing the regional productivity gap and helping the country to catch up with our competitors overseas.

“If we are ever going to have an economy that works for everyone, we need a federal UK and regional government with teeth, such as a Council of the North, working with a souped-up Transport for the North, businesses and residents,” he argued.

“That means doing what Whitehall has failed to do for decades, and invest in transport so the whole country can benefit from the realised potential of a New North: northern prosperity is national prosperity.”

IPPR’s calls come just a few months after the think tank put forward a report arguing that HS3 should be prioritised over HS2 and Crossrail 2 as a result of the Brexit vote – an opinion later shared by most RTM readers.

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Andrew Gwilt   26/07/2017 at 21:17

I guarantee that Chris Grayling might change his mind on the proposed electrification for parts of the GWML and MML. The Chase Line electrification and Gospel Oak-Barking Line electrification hasn't been ruled out and will still continue with the London Midland Class 323's to operate on the Chase Line between Birmingham and Walsall once the electrification is finished and the Class 710's to be built and delivered to be operated on the Gospel Oak-Barking Line once the electrification is completed and to replace the Class 172's elsewhere with Class 710's to operate on the other lines including the Lea Valley metro services and Euston-Watford DC service.

Tothehills   27/07/2017 at 09:47

In response to AG: Unfortunately not a cat in hells chance. The GWML electrification will stop at its CG limits and that will be the end of it. Even if JC got elected it won't progress any further as it means spending money of the west country and we are forbidden to have government money spent on us - well it certainly feels like it!

Lutz   28/07/2017 at 01:01

IPPR is NOT an influential think-tank; it severely damaged it's reputation through it's misleading presentation of statistics to present support for a political stand-point. There is no justification for the level of investment that this agency is proposing - condition in the provinces do not match the levels of demand and construction costs seen in the London & South East Regions, and spending such levels of money with benefit to anyone would be a flagrant mis-use of tax payer funds. This agency is also aware that powers are being transferred to regional bodies which will find means of raising the additional funds from local tax-payers and businesses along with all the liabilities that would entail.

Graham Nalty   28/07/2017 at 13:00

There is no justification for the very serious imbalance in funding of rail in the Midlands and North compared with London. Whilst there may be some decisions that need to be taken nationally, there needs to be much greater funding to the cities of the North so that they can build up a transport infrastructure that meets their needs. HS2 decisions in the North should be taken by the cities in the North and not by London, which is why there is such concern at the inadequate solutions proposed by HS2 Ltd. Leeds and Sheffield need share the same HS2 trains and those for the NE would be better going via Doncaster.

Peter Gordon   28/07/2017 at 14:03

What we need is Crossrail 2, enhancements in the north but not HS2 (surely we can afford two schemes at once.) Why do we want a scheme that makes the north a suburb of London (although it justifies improvements in the capital. If all lines go to London I want by headquarters in the one place with good rail connections. The trouble is that the dangerous overcrowding (and it may well become dangerous) is mostly down south (not exclusively, think of Birmingham New St before its upgrade). You have to put the resources where the problem is. The trouble with the north is that it is clear that there needs to be a lot of investment if GDP per head is to rival London but an overall masterplan needs to be presented first. I would look to the Randstadt in the Netherlands as an example although there are others and then ask what transport is required - this gives the compelling case. In the meantime I would spend more on buses outside London. Trains in the north are (generally) cheaper and less crowded, but also less comprehensive so it cuts both ways. Buses outside London are inferior on almost all counts.

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