Time for Crossrail Plan for the North
There are increasing levels of anger about the disparity in investment on transport between the South and North.
This year we have seen unacceptable delays and cancellations on our regional railways, which have had a terrible impact on those who rely on trains to reach their workplace. It feels like we’re not getting a fair deal.
Many people have asked me if we can avoid the B-word (Brexit) at IoD events and instead focus on the C-word – connectivity. Although next week, I will be talking about the D-word, devolution, which can affect both of those other words.
This year started with new analysis from think-tank IPPR North, which found that London will receive £4,155 per person, compared to £1,600 in the North. That’s a gap of £2,555 per person. No wonder the IPPR said these figures were “indefensible”.
To learn that the electric trains being built by Hitachi just across the North Yorkshire border in Newton Aycliffe, will not be able to function on our existing railway lines due to recent mothballing of electrification of our regional lines is simply unacceptable.
We must do something to influence this - and quickly.
It is good to see some new (but old) trains now servicing the York to Leeds via Harrogate line – this is an improvement but why hasn’t every train been replaced?
It wasn’t too long ago when a colleague of mine ventured out of London and was utterly shocked to see that he was riding on one of the old Pacer trains, the last one he rode on was in Tehran.
Arriving on a recent Tuesday evening to York from London at 9.17pm meant that there was a wait until 10.11pm to get from York to Harrogate and then onwards to my home in Nidderdale by car. The journey home after arriving in York was longer than the journey from London to York!
This kind of experience would not be tolerated in the South.
During peak travel times, I stay just outside London. From there, I can get to any of London’s five major airports or to the heart of the capital in less than 45 minutes.
Crossrail will mean I can stay in a whole array of areas outside central London.
That is why I am delighted that the Mayor of Liverpool is pushing for Crossrail for the North. With so many Powerhouse economies on the route from Liverpool to Hull, the economic case is undeniable.
If we have the lines, and driverless cars are on the horizon, are we able to consider driverless trains?
The thought of Hyperloop and Crossrail with 5G in our key cities and towns would transform the North as we know it. This would be a turning point in our bid to attract much-needed inward investment.
The excellent Dr Alan James knows all about the opportunities for the North and our transport challenges.
Alan is an exceptional business leader and former vice-president with Virgin Hyperloop One. You can meet him at our Open House in Leeds on 10 October along with Dan Lewis, the IoD’s Infrastructure and Energy Lead.
Find out more
Natalie Sykes, Regional Director, Institute of Directors