Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to increase the control the north has over its own transport systems.
The Northern Powerhouse, a government initiative to boost economic growth in the north of England through a major investment drive from the government, celebrated five years in the making this year. With the intention of increasing the priority given to towns and cities across the north, in order to even up the balance between the economies of the north and the south, Boris Johnson’s pledge for increased devolution should be a welcome announcement.
In a speech in Rotherham, Yorkshire – which was interrupted by a heckler partway through – the Prime Minister said the government would “maximise the powers of the north”, assigning more mayors across the region.
Transport key issue
Tackling transport directly, which has been a talking point in recent years for its failures last year after the timetable change, along with uncertainty over HS2 which is planned to allow access from London to the north-east and the north-west, Johnson has promised to “give the railways of the north back to the people of the north”, adding “it is time for the north to run its own trains”.
Fares, stations and rolling stock will all come under the new proposals, with a partnership between the railways and the “people of the trains”.
“These are the pumping pistons that will drive the Northern Powerhouse,” Johnson said.
Improving connectivity in the north
In a separate speech, the Prime Minister also confirmed he was still committed to delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail, with the first step being the Manchester to Leeds route. A detailed plan of this will be made available later this year, but it is set to modernise and vastly improve the existing connections across the north to support economic growth.
Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, the largest cities in the north, have all received huge levels of investment as a result of the Northern Powerhouse, which has led to an increasing number of businesses and investors seeing greater potential in the north as they move away from the capital.
Regeneration has also meant a vastly improving residential and commercial property market for the cities as well as the surrounding towns, and further transport investment and improvements are set to bring more of an incentive to invest in the area.