Hyperloop would be game-changer
If you commute to work in Yorkshire, then you need no reminder about the sorry state of our rail and road infrastructure.
Urgent investment is required to bring our transport into the 21st century. And I’m not just talking about trains that run on time, we need to be thinking about game-changers such as Hyperloop.
Made famous by the entrepreneur Elon Musk, Hyperloop is a new mode of transport that carries passengers or cargo in pods, which can be accessed on demand. The pods travel inside a vacuum tube system at speeds of up to 600mph. The potential is mind-boggling, with east-west journeys across the North of England reduced to minutes.
Dr Alan James, who served as the first VP of Global Business Development at Virgin Hyperloop One and is now a partner at Expert Alliance, gave a special guest presentation at our IoD business breakfast in Harrogate this month.
He was joined by Roger Marsh OBE, chairman of the Leeds city region LEP, who provided clarity and insight on how better connectivity (both data and transport) can drive productivity and entrepreneurial innovation among SMEs.
If Hyperloop is too much to comprehend right now, let’s talk about battery power – a quick fix for our Trans-Pennine railway, which stops being electrified once it gets to the Pennines. By placing batteries on trains instead of diesel engines, we can reclaim a whole carriage for passengers, reduce noise pollution and slash carbon emissions.
Securing a One Yorkshire devolution agreement from the government will be key to delivering the right decisions and the right investment for our region such as battery power and 5G. And last week we made a very positive step in the right direction with the appointment of Sue Harris, a litigation solicitor at law firm Walker Morris LLP and IoD Ambassador, as Secretary to the One Yorkshire executive.
The One Yorkshire proposal is backed by 18 local authorities and the Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis. It would see the creation of a Mayor of Yorkshire and enable decisions currently taken in London, to be made in the region. To my mind, reaching agreement on this deal is the best way to truly realise the vision of a connected Northern Powerhouse.
Sue says: “I’m delighted that the Institute of Directors can provide tangible input to the debate and, along with IoD Regional Chairman Jon Geldart, our presence on the board adds a business dimension to the thinking and planning.”
One Yorkshire is a subject that the IoD, as an organisation, will return to time and again this year as we embark on a busy calendar of business events with our new regional patron, energy supplier CNG.
Coming up we have our BrExport Harrogate Brexfast on 14 March with CNG on the panel, with the event soon be ready for booking on our website. But before that we have our annual North Yorkshire dinner at Rudding Park, Harrogate on 24 January with a Burns Night theme - black tie and kilts all the way.
Surely now is the time, more than ever, to have some control over our region – we cannot afford to miss the train on devolution.
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Natalie Sykes, Regional Director, Institute of Directors