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How Would a Northern Powerhouse Rail Benefit Northern Cities?

4 min

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New analysis by the North’s Sub-national Transport Body has revealed the transformational impact of investment in the North of England’s rail system. Quadrant Transport looks at this to see what benefits the investment could lead to.

The latest figures from Transport for the North’s rail modelling system show how delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 will result in substantial improvements in connectivity for people and businesses across the region, driving sustainable economic growth.

The data reveal that the number of people and businesses within two hours of certain places increases by more than 50% in some instances, with significant benefits for the North-East and parts of Yorkshire.

The figures demonstrate the real-life impact and opportunity from the North’s flagship rail project. Northern Powerhouse Rail is a crucial part of realising Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan, published in 2019, and has a key role in enabling sustainable economic growth consistent with TfN’s Decarbonisation Strategy, which is due to be finalised later this year.

Cities in the North could have a minimum of 40% increase in businesses and residents

The latest analysis comes from the Northern Rail Modelling System (NoRMs), a jointly created system between Transport for the North and the Department for Transport.

The benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail in full to some major cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool are well known, but this analysis shows that the opportunities stretch far beyond these major cities.

One of the key findings showed that there could be a 59% increase in businesses and a 60% increase in people within two hours of Hull. An extra 110,000 businesses could also be created within two hours of Bradford.

Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North, told Quadrant Transport: “Northern Powerhouse Rail is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the region’s railway and radically enhance connectivity between the North’s communities, creating jobs and boosting the Northern economy for decades to come.”

The statistics show that the programme will bring people and business across the region closer together, through a metro-style, high-speed, electrified railway, opening up opportunity and rocket-boosting regional economic growth.

“We hope that the significant body of evidence, jointly created with the Department for Transport, will be reflected in an ambitious commitment to the North in the Integrated Rail Plan, alongside a clearly defined role for Transport for the North in delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

The findings also indicate an increase in international travel from the North

A considerable benefit to the region’s international gateways with more than three million more people within two hours of Manchester Airport and two million additional within two hours of Durham Tees Valley Airport were highlighted in the analysis.

In terms of rail transport, passenger numbers across the North have recovered quickly following the lifting of pandemic restrictions; a reflection of the strong role that rail plays in the North for both business and leisure use.

The ambition of the North’s political and business leaders means that there is still a need to address the long-term capacity constraints previously identified. Investing in the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail will help build back better and help level up across the North.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North-East Joint Transport Committee and Leader of Gateshead Council, told Quadrant Transport: “The analysis is clear – Northern Powerhouse Rail and the eastern leg of HS2 will unlock the economic potential of the North-East and support the regeneration of our communities by transforming rail links to, and within, all parts of Northern England.”

Bringing millions of people and thousands of businesses closer together by improving regional connectivity to and from the North-East is why we support the plans for future investment in both Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Eastern leg of HS2.

“Ahead of the Government’s forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan, we are calling for clear commitments to deliver both HS2 and NPR in full as well as upgrading the East Coast Main Line in the North-East, to deliver better and more reliable train services that the region needs and deserves.”

Northern Powerhouse Rail is a major strategic rail programme, specifically designed to support the transformation of the North’s economy by providing effective and efficient rail connectivity between the North’s major economic centres, offering a faster and more reliable service across the entire region.