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TfN welcomes ‘good first step’ towards NPR in Autumn Statement

Transport for the North (TfN) has welcomed chancellor Philip Hammond’s commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) in yesterday’s Autumn Statement.

In his speech to the House of Commons, Hammond announced that the Treasury was publishing its Northern Powerhouse Strategy.

The strategy says that the government would continue to work with TfN to consider route development options for NPR, in which it has invested £60m. It will then announce its next steps in 2017.

Hammond said: “This government recognises that for too long, economic growth in our country has been too concentrated in London and the south east. That’s not just a social problem, it’s an economic problem.”

John Cridland, chair of TfN and former director-general of the Confederation of Business Industry, noted that the government’s recognition of the need to invest in the north to help unleash its huge potential is very welcome.

“One of the major hindrances for the north is poor transport infrastructure, particularly east-west links,” he said. “That’s why we are developing NPR, a network which will revolutionise train travel for passengers and freight, and it’s why we’re working with our partners to identify all of the major roads in the north which are vital for the growth of the region’s economy.

“The improvements announced today are a good first step in building the transport links needed to transform the north.”

A group of northern political leaders wrote to Hammond this week urging him to prioritise funding for NPR above Crossrail 2.

In road funding, the government also used the Autumn Statement to confirm that funding for the Manchester M60 North West Quadrant and the Pennines A66 improvements will be provided.

The Northern Powerhouse Strategy quoted figures from TfN’s Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, which was published earlier this year. It found that increased investment in infrastructure and skills development would add an extra £97bn to the north’s economy by 2050.

Cridland called this “a huge prize, not just for the north but for the whole of the United Kingdom”.

He added that once TfN is able to secure statutory status, it will develop a Strategic Transport Plan for the North, which he promised would be aligned with the Northern Powerhouse Strategy.

In the strategy, the Treasury also announced that four transport projects in the north had been awarded business case development funding from the Local Majors Fund, including Sheffield Supertram renewal. Furthermore, £556m will be allocated to northern LEPs through Growth Deal funding.

(Image c. TfN)

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