The UK economy has taken a big hit from Covid-19. The economy will need to be rebuilt and people who have become unemployed will need to find new jobs.
Building new transport infrastructure that adds value to the overall transport provision is a highly effective way to increase employment and stimulate local economies. So I very much welcome the Greengauge 21 report Revisiting High Speed North as an excellent route map upon which to proceed (‘East-west rail tunnel touted to ease Gtr Manchester’s rail capacity crunch’ LTT 15 May).
The pace of investment in rail infrastructure and electrification needs a big step change upwards. Cities are the instruments of economic growth. They need to play a much bigger role in defining their ambitions for new transport infrastructure and transport services.
I have to applaud Greengauge 21 for basing its plans on using Manchester Piccadilly rather than Victoria for a tunnel in deference to Manchester's wishes.
Cities are capable of allocating land for expansion of rail stations to meet future demand. Their businesses want to attract employees, shoppers and theatre-goers from a wide area and this will be best achieved with a strong voice on service options.
Whilst there needs to be an overall long-term strategy for rail expansion in the north of England, work does need to start now in relieving the worst bottlenecks because these are so urgent. This strategy needs to be applied in stages with each stage delivering obvious transport benefits.
Greengauge 21 offer many possible solutions, which all have great merit. But this should not close the door to other ideas. My own thoughts include:
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