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Here’s a link to today’s Northern Transport Strategy report

Click to access the-northern-powerhouse-tagged.pdf

My first thoughts?

It’s good to see that the report has added flesh to the bones of Hs3 by coming up with a variety of costed schemes. This shopping list of options should really help to move the debate forward. As for the total bill, it’s worth bearing in mind that all these schemes are loaded with a 60% ‘optimisation bias’ this should decrease once the schemes are worked out in detail.

Of course, lots of questions remain. For example, what route would a new line through the Pennines take? There are also implications for current plans to electrify the Leeds – Manchester Trans-Pennine route through the Colne valley via Huddersfield. Is the scheme likely to be delayed further by the announcement?

Real positives are the way investment focus has shifted away from concentrating on London & the South East & the fact we (at last) seem to be looking at a strategy that involves looking beyond Parliamentary terms or even Network Rail control periods. No doubt the cynics will see these announcements as window dressing for the forthcoming election. I don’t subscribe to that view. There’s been too much work put in by too many folks on all sides of the political divide. Although I do have concerns about the way some Northern politicians all too easily lapse into parochialism – especially on the Eastern side of the Pennines!

Other interesting parts of the announcement are the proposal to simply the fares structure & introduce what sounds like a Northern equivalent to London’s travel zones. Modernising ticketing with a contactless card system should also be welcomed.

Freight often seems to be an afterthought in these grand plans so it’s a welcome change to see a freight strategy mentioned.

Back on another favourite subject (Hs2) I believe this report & the people united behind it demonstrate just how irrelevant those campaigning against Hs2 are nowadays. Rather than it being stopped we’re seeing proposals to bring it to Crewe 6 years earlier than originally planned!

I’ll blog more when I’ve had chance to read through the full report. For now, here are the rail options included in the announcement, along with a map;


• Leeds to Newcastle times of around 50 minutes (compared to a best time of 87 minutes currently): £8.5bn – £14bn – Option 1

• Sheffield to Manchester times of around 27 minutes (compared to a best time of 48 minutes currently), and Manchester to Leeds in around 30 minutes: £12bn – £19bn – Option 2

• Manchester to Leeds times of around 30 minutes (compared to a best time of 49 minutes currently): £6.5bn – £10bn – Option 3

• Liverpool to Manchester times of around 20 minutes (compared to a best time of 32 minutes currently): £8bn – £13bn – Option 4

• Leeds to Hull times of around 28 minutes (compared to a best time of 55 minutes currently): £5.5bn – £9bn – Option 5

Upgrades and cut-offs costing £12.5bn-£23bn-plus

• Leeds to Newcastle journey times of around 70 to 80 minutes: £1bn-£4bn – Option 6

• Sheffield to Manchester times of around 39 minutes: £3bn – £5bn – Option 7

• Manchester to Leeds times of around 34 minutes: £4.5bn – £7bn – Option 8

• Liverpool to Manchester times of around 23 minutes: £4bn and £7bn – Option 9

• Sheffield to Hull times of around 60 minutes (compared to a best time of 86 minutes currently) through upgrading the existing route – Option 10 – or using HS2 into Leeds, combined with the proposed Leeds to Hull improvements