Newcastle Central Station

New analysis reveals the potential benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail

Benefits felt by hundreds of thousands of businesses. Improved travel for millions of people. Increasing the number of people and businesses within two hours of key UK destinations in some instances by more than 50% their current levels. These are some of the potential opportunities of Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2, as highlighted by the latest figures from Transport for the North (TfN).

Data collated and analysed by the region’s sub-national transport body have shown significant benefits for those in the North East of England and parts of Yorkshire, in particular.

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) is one of the flagship rail projects in the North, intended to transform the region’s rail system and greatly increase interconnectivity between a number of core cities.

It forms a key part of TfN’s Strategic Transport Plan, published in 2019, as well as playing a crucial role in enabling sustainable economic growth in the region – in line with TfN’s Decarbonisation Strategy, which is due to be finalised later this year.

The latest analysis of NPR’s benefits looked beyond the traditional major cities of Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool – the benefits to whom are well-known at this stage – and highlighted some of the other cities to significantly benefit from the project.

Key findings included:

  • An additional 49,000 businesses (59 per cent increase) and 1.7 million more people (60 per cent increase) within two hours of Hull.
    • In total 132,000 businesses and 4.5 million people.
  • More than 66,000 extra businesses (45 per cent increase) and 2.2 million more people (43 per cent increase) within two hours of Durham.
    • In total 216,000 businesses and 7.4 million people
  • Nearly three million additional people (42 per cent increase) and 94,000 more businesses (43 per cent increase) within two hours of Sheffield.
    • In total 316,000 businesses and 10.1 million people.
  • An extra 3.5 million people (45 per cent increase) and 110,000 businesses (45 per cent increase) within two hours of Bradford.
    • In total 353,000 businesses and 11.5 million people.
  • More than two million additional people (43 per cent increase) and a further 54,000 businesses (41 per cent increase) within two hours of Darlington.
    • In total 189,000 businesses and 6.8 million people.
  • One million more people (33 per cent increase) and an extra 33,000 businesses (33 per cent increase) within two hours of Newcastle.
    • In total 132,000 businesses and 4.7 million people.

Internationally too, there will be considerable benefits felt as the analysis showed the regional rail investment would place more than three million more people (a 46% increase) within two hours of Manchester Airport, and two million additional people (a 45% increase) within two hours of Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North, said:

“Northern Powerhouse Rail is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the region’s railway and radically enhance connectivity between the North’s communities, creating jobs and boosting the Northern economy for decades to come.

“The statistics show that the programme will bring people and business across the region closer together, through a metro-style, high-speed, electrified railway, opening up opportunity and rocket-boosting regional economic growth.”

“We hope that the significant body of evidence, jointly created with the Department for Transport, will be reflected in an ambitious commitment to the North in the Integrated Rail Plan, alongside a clearly defined role for Transport for the North in delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“The choices made may well define our region’s outcomes for the next century, that is how important this is.

“The sooner we have clarity on rail investment, the sooner we can press on with delivery for the Northern public.”

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll added: “Good transport means reliable journeys, less stress and healthier living. People will choose to take the train if they are fast and efficient. Northern Powerhouse Rail does this by improving connectivity to Newcastle and across the wider North.

“The increase in capacity on the East Coast Main Line is essential in making the network fully connected. That means that we need four tracks north of York.

“What we now need is firm commitment from Government to turbo-charge plans and make Northern Powerhouse Rail a reality.”

On November 11, 2021, TCR North returns to Manchester to unite leaders and decision-makers from across the region's rail industry and beyond. Find out more here.


RTM April/May 24


Immerse yourself with the latest thought leadership on intelligent wayfinding for a more inclusive railway, a revolutionary approach to investment in the south, and strategic investments unlocking the North’s potential.

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