Why transport plan needs speedy approach

Nigel Foster, president of the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, gives his verdict on the government’s plans to revolutionise the North’s transport sector.

We at the chamber wholeheartedly agree with the multi-modal approach to connecting the north set out in the Transport for the North report.

A strategic consideration of transport needs for this part of the UK is long overdue and we completely support the commitments to invest in our strategic road network and, crucially the proposals for significant investment in rail links and services across the north of England.

Major improvements are needed to facilitate the trade of goods and services and support the connectivity of business, which is vital in delivering better productivity.

The proposed scale of investment is essential after years of under funding and investment in all modes of transport and must include solutions to deliver more efficient freight and logistics.

It will enable the North to realise its full economic potential and contribute to the future success of the UK economy.

In addition we welcome the proposal to speed up delivery of HS2 to Leeds via the East Midlands and Sheffield. The report’s additional proposals for transforming journey times and reliability on the North’s rail network are vital but without additional capacity through building new lines then it is difficult to see how they will be transformational.

Therefore, we encourage Transport for the North and the government to press ahead in developing firm plans and identifying and committing funds to make the proposals a reality.

Devolution of powers and funding to the Northern Authorities will be essential for the plans to be delivered rather than having to rely entirely upon central government’s decision making processes.

Whilst we support the proposals they are very much for the medium and long term and so it will be absolutely essential that we also quickly implement and deliver projects, such as those in the West Yorkshire Transport Fund, Trans-Pennine electrification and improved surface access to Leeds Bradford International Airport to help overcome the current slow journey times, unreliability and congestion that many currently experience on our rail services and road network.