These reports that the Integrated Rail Plan will be "bad news" for the North of England are disappointing. I hope that this is not the case, as the Prime Minister said only last week in Manchester that transport is “one of the supreme leveller-uppers” and he was very clear in saying he “will do Northern Powerhouse Rail”.
But to truly deliver on these words it means: the full NPR network that properly connects the North East to the North West; serious investment in a Northern Infrastructure Pipeline to upgrade local areas for the 21st century; and a genuine devolution offer as set out in our Northern Transport Charter with a devolved Northern Budget and with powers for Northern leaders to create the same level of transport systems that people in London and the South East take for granted.
The work we have done as TfN shows the value of that investment and the importance of it for ‘levelling up’. It was very encouraging to see that the Prime Minister believes he has a mandate for transformational change, and he wants transport to be the cornerstone of his levelling up agenda, and therefore the Comprehensive Spending Review this month gives the prime opportunity for his Government to set this out in full.
Anything less will not only be “bad news” for people living in the North, but it will be shirking one of the biggest decisions for our country in a generation.