An ambitious vision we all need to support
Momentum is building in the drive to transform the North’s rail and road infrastructure and with it the delivery of thousands of jobs and significant economic growth.
Civic and business leaders are meeting this week to discuss Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan (STP) and Investment Programme which set out how up to £70 billion of investment to 2050 could contribute towards an additional £100 billion in economic growth for the North, creating 850,000 extra jobs.
The plans include a range of road and rail programmes to improve connectivity for not only people but businesses too, making it easier to transport goods to, from and within the North.
Central to the STP, is the Northern Powerhouse Rail project which would reduce journey times between our major cities and deliver a new high-speed line connecting Leeds and Manchester via Bradford. Great news for business and great news for those who live and work in the North.
As Transport for the North says, this is an ambitious vision for the future of the North’s economy but one which needs everyone’s support if we are to secure government funding and get some of these much-needed infrastructure projects underway in the short to medium term.
Once again, I am delighted to see Roger Marsh OBE, IoD Council representative for Yorkshire and the North East, is firmly in the driving seat for change. Not only chairman for the NP11 – the influential body made up of the chairs of each 11 LEPs in the Northern Powerhouse – Roger is also a member of the national rail review panel.
I’m pleased to see that the STP vision also focuses on new, low-carbon ways of travelling, a subject very close to my heart. Keen to reduce my own carbon footprint, I have switched to driving a hybrid car although it could be more economical given the length of time it takes to charge its battery!
However, technology is moving on apace with companies such as Tesla leading the way with the introduction of smaller, simpler and more affordable electric cars. According to Transport for the North’s STP document, ‘a typical electric vehicle uses 19kWh of energy to travel 100km, while an average petrol vehicle uses 67kWh’.
Which is why these fantastic machines, together with other emerging vehicle technologies, an increase in the use of ultra-low emission vehicles and the moving of freight from road to rail are all important measures in reducing carbon emissions and their damaging effects.
Staying with cars, the news that Nissan intends to move production of its new X-trail model from its Sunderland plant to Japan was very disappointing. The Sunderland operation employs 7,000 people and while it is reported that no jobs will be lost, Nissan’s decision is a significant blow to the UK’s car industry.
The case also highlights how the continued uncertainty over Brexit is hitting business, making it very difficult for some sectors to plan for the future.
What is certain is that while we have plans on the table for the development of our Northern rail infrastructure, we are still some time away from being able to take advantage of the required improvements.
And that means for now the car – hybrid, electric or not – will remain for many the preferred mode of transport.
- Hot off the press: Tuesday 14 May, we welcome Anna Daroy, IoD interim Director General for operations as our key note speaker to Cloth Hall Court, Leeds from 5pm until 7pm. Let’s hope the trains are running to time as more often than not our IoD officials suffer delays, cancellations and overcrowded carriages.
Quote ‘Yorkshire Post’ to book your tickets at email@example.com or book online from the IoD Yorkshire website.
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Natalie Sykes, regional director, Institute of Directors