As the dust settles on HS2 and the decisions that have led to its cancellation from the Midlands to the North West, attentions and heads have turned back to rail investment in the region and how the potential that it undoubtably has can be unleashed.
TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is a huge part of that. Initially seen as a new high speed line from coast to coast, it has gradually been scaled down and will run from Liverpool through to Manchester and then onto Leeds and beyond.
Speaking at today’s (Thursday 9th November) TransCityRail North event, chief executive of Transport for The North (TfN) Martin Tugwell believes that the region needs to wake up to TRU’s potential.
“We must have the mindset that TRU is of the same level of importance as what the South and the southern business leaders saw Crossrail to have, because the opportunities available will mean it really can be as transformative.”
As a whole, the region has been working towards a more integrated rail network, connecting some of the biggest cities and their surrounding areas into a more seamless and forward-looking network. And the reasons for this, are quite obvious to Martin.
Speaking at the event, Martin said: “The rail industry and rail is at the very heart of the north and we are in growth in the part of the world, and we should seize that opportunity because it can be the catalyst of economic growth. Rail and rail investment is a signal to the business world that we are open for business.”
In the new year, TfN will be releasing its updated strategic transport plan, which will outline how exactly they think they can unleash the £118 billion pounds worth of investment across the region, so it benefits everybody. Martin explained how investment should be focused.
“The reality is that under any scenario across the future, we must grow the railway, grow the infrastructure and the services.
“We spent ten years on the scope and we lost ten years in that time – to inflation, to cost and we lost ten years of benefits, so we need to concentrate on working better in tandem to really deliver.”