The development of six “quick win” projects could start as early as 2020 if the government reaffirms its commitment to the north and allocates money to be spent on smaller-scale schemes, the IPPR North say.
The leading think tank for the north of England say the chancellor Philip Hammond must use his upcoming Spending Review to enable the development of projects like the Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway rail station, new hydrogen trains and a new bridge across the River Tees.
Researchers say its vital that ministers devolve a £400m project development fund to Transport for the North (TfN) to be spent in conjunction with local transport authorities, and in line with TfN’s appraisal methodology.
If this is achieved then the “quick win” projects identified could deliver real economic, social and environmental benefits and start as early as 2020, claim the IPPR North.
In January, TfN revealed its £70bn strategic transport plan (STP) which it says could contribute towards an additional £100bn for the north’s economy, while creating an extra 850,000 jobs.
But while the sub-national transport body is currently working on major long-term plans to bring northern transport into the 21st century, the report published today says that while “big ticket” major projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail are essential, they will take decades to deliver and therefore smaller interventions that bring benefits sooner must not be ignored.
The six projects identified by the think tank which could start as early as 2020:
- Reopen the Ashington Blyth and Tyne railway for passenger services, which could boost the economy by £70 million a year.
- Build the Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway rail station, expanding Yorkshire’s internal and international connectivity.
- Support the development of hydrogen trains which could regenerate Tees Valley and Merseyside.
- Intervene in the Tees Valley’s rail network to unblock the passenger and freight networks.
- Implement new traffic management technology to improve air quality in the North.
- Build a new bridge across the River Tees to allow the economy to reach its potential, having a wider impact on the north.
Commenting on the report, author and senior research fellow at IPPR North, Luke Raikes said: “Today we are highlighting the value of smaller-scale projects and the transformative effect they can have much sooner. These relatively inexpensive projects could be quick to deliver and could make a real difference for the people of the north. The north can bring these plans forward but needs the resources and commitment from government to do so. That’s why we need the chancellor to commit new development funding to the North in this year’s Spending Review.”