Northern Powerhouse Rail predicted to provide £22bn boost to economy

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A new report has revealed that one key section of Northern Powerhouse Rail alone could deliver a £22bn boost to the Northern economy by 2060 – nearly £8bn more than previously forecast.

The new research which has been unveiled by Mott MacDonald and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership shows that a new high-speed rail link between Leeds, Bradford and Manchester could potentially increase productivity by 6% (equivalent to £16.5bn), raise the employment rate by 1.5% (equivalent to £5.5bn), and increase GVA in the North by about 8% over a decade.

Bradford station CGI

The document also says that traditional cost-benefit analysis, has failed to recognise the true economic potential of the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) development, a project which if given the green light by Government to include a new stop in Bradford, would act as a platform for the city’s regeneration.

It argues that if simultaneous action across skills, planning, utility provision, education, tourism, leisure and industrial policy is taken into account, billions more could be added to the Northern economy through delivery of NPR.

When taken together, the leading city regions of the North have a higher population than London, but generate less than half the economic output.

The government has continued to state its support for delivering the new high-speed rail network that would better connect the North’s city regions which collectively have a higher population than London but generate less than 50% of the capital’s economic output, most recently at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

However alongside providing no timetable for NPR delivery the government is still yet to publish the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), which was originally due at the end of last year.

Now ahead of the Autumn Spending Review Northern leaders have expressed their frustration over the continued delays to the IRP arguing that confusion and uncertainty is undermining business confidence in the region, with new West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin last week stating: ““the time for rhetoric will be over” when the Spending Review takes place.

Henri Murison

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), said: “The North is still waiting for the high-speed rail we were promised. Building Northern Powerhouse Rail across the Pennines in full through Bradford would be transformative for our region, attracting investment and creating jobs and opportunities for local people.

Uncertainty over rail investment, in particular the Eastern Leg of HS2, is doing huge damage to our economy. We need to start building from the North down from Leeds to reach Sheffield to unlock connectivity benefits sooner.

“This is vital to releasing much-needed capacity on the rail line, improving local connections and allowing more goods to be transported by freight instead of heavily-polluting HGV lorries.

“Levelling up cannot and will not happen without the full delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail together.”

Cathy Travers, managing director, UK and Europe, Mott MacDonald, said: ‘’Many of us who live and work in the North of England understand the untapped potential that we have across the region. We know that we need true connectivity to unleash that potential and enhance peoples’ opportunities and drive better social outcomes.

“Northern Powerhouse Rail is a catalyst for this change and we need it urgently. In this report we have applied Mott MacDonald’s leading expertise in economic analysis and our experience of infrastructure investment to show the full economic benefit of delivering a new rail link between Leeds, Bradford and Manchester as the first step in kickstarting a northern renaissance. I believe our paper makes a compelling case for Government backing for Northern Powerhouse Rail in the forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan.”

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