The Government has published the Union Connectivity Review with Prime Minister Boris Johnson committing to strengthening transport networks to create a more connected United Kingdom.
The publication of Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review underlines the Government’s commitment to bring UK communities within closer reach of social and economic opportunities.
The Review looks into ways connectivity can be improved across the four nations of the UK.
The review includes the proposal for the creation of UKNET – a strategic transport network stretching across the whole United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister has welcomed the UKNET plan and intends to accept the proposal.
UKNET will assess and map out the key points across the entire UK that are essential to stronger and more direct transport connections.
As a result economic growth and job creation will be boosted.
The opportunity to level up will also be increased by expanding the transport system, creating easier travel for passengers, freight and businesses.
Devolved administrations have been invited to work collaboratively by the UK Government in developing the necessary improvements to union connectivity.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) spoke on what the proposals in the Review will mean for the rail industry.
Mr Caplan said: “We welcome Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review.
“It is good to see mention of upgrade schemes, such as the West Coast Main Line and North Wales Coast Line electrification.
“As well as improving rail links in Northern Ireland, across the Midlands, and on the East Coast of England.
“All would help increase rail capacity in the UK.
“[This is] vital to providing sustainable transport options for millions of people and also freight in the future and boosting long-term economic growth.
“We will assess how the development of the proposed ‘UKNET’… will work in practice for our members.
“A joined-up, strategic approach to planning UK transport connectivity of course makes sense in principle.
“RIA and our members will now work with partners across the UK on these recommendations.
“We await the Government’s response and hope to see confirmation of funding and scheduling for the upgrades shortly.”
Recommendations for improved connections across the UK include:
- Scotland: proposals include reducing rail journey times and increasing capacity on the West Coast Main Line, and conducting an assessment of the East Coast road and rail corridor.
- Northern Ireland: upgrading the key A75 link to improve freight and passenger connectivity.
- Wales: improvements on the A55, M53 and M56, the South Wales Corridor, improvements to the North Wales Coast Main Line and rail links to the Midlands from Cardiff.
The UK Government will work with the devolved Governments to assess and consider the Union Connectivity Review’s proposals.