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Northern cities call for transport boost to rebalance economy

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The One North report proposes increased road capacity, improved rail links and better access to ports and airports.

The report was developed by Machester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle, and proposes spending the £15bn over 15 years.

It follows a speech last week by George Osborne when he said he wanted to see creation of a “northern global powerhouse.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The current constraints on our transport networks, the product of years of neglect and under-investment, affect the competitiveness of the north.

“East-west journeys take almost twice as long as equivalent journeys in the south and our rail links are too slow and uncoordinated. Our motorways are congested, and there is an over-reliance on the M62.”

The report’s proposals include:

• Increased road capacity for both freight and personal travel through extended managed motorways, addressing gaps in the network and improving links to ports.

• A very fast, frequent and high quality intercity rail network joining up city regions – including a new trans-Pennine route (tunnelled as necessary), a faster link to Newcastle and improved access to Manchester Airport.

• Improved regional rail networks to provide additional capacity and help sustain growth, interconnected with HS2 and intercity services plus local tram networks and more park and ride facilities.

• New rolling stock (as a priority), electrification of existing lines, higher service frequencies and addressing pinch-points on the rail network.

• A digital infrastructure enabling real-time information, greater network resilience and faster connections between key areas to personal and business users.

• Improved access to enable efficient freight movements by rail, road and water including ports, rail links and distribution centres.

• Building HS2 early – extending Phase One to Crewe and bringing forwards the delivery of HS2 between Leeds and Sheffield.

• Improving East/West rail freight capability across the Pennines, linking major ports to north/south rail routes.

Related: The problem with HS2? It’s in the wrong place

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