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Paving the way to the future

Northern transport investment is booming, with recently released figures showing a greater spending on road and rail upgrades in the north than in London and the south.

The North will see a higher transport spend over the next three years, according to the Department for Transport, with some £831 per head invested in road and rail upgrades across the northern counties, compared to £799 in the south.

The figures were released ahead of attending the Northern Transport Summit in Manchester, where Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg extolled the virtues of an expanded Heathrow for the rest of the country, not just London; with 15% of slots reserved for regional flights.

Some £1Bn is being spent on improving the rail network across the North with further investment through the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises expected to deliver room for 40,000 more passengers to travel on over 2,000 more services a week, with all trains replaced or refurbished by 2020. There are also plans to invest a further £3Bn upgrading the Transpennine rail route, better connecting Manchester, Leeds and York.

Meanwhile, the government has committed to the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), providing Transport for the North with £60M of funding to develop proposals for the scheme, alongside investing £300M to ensure HS2 can accommodate future NPR services.

The road network is not to be left behind, with upgrades being made across the network. Manchester is about to benefit from the opening of its smart motorway stretch on the M60, while the last stretch of motorway-standard road between Newcastle and London via the A1(M) and M1 was officially opened in May, providing quicker connections from the north-east. While the final section of the M62 upgrade between Leeds and Manchester is expected to start construction in 2019/20, leading to quicker, safer and more reliable journeys.

A further 22 projects are already in the works by Highways England, including road upgrades, dualling work and improving junctions on the M621.

Baroness Sugg said: “We are investing more than £13Bn to improve connections across the north between 2015 and 2020, getting people to their work, family and friends, quicker and easier than before.

“This investment demonstrates the government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse, which will help unlock economic growth and much-needed housing across the region.

“And a new Heathrow runway will bring further benefits to the north, better connecting the region’s airports with the UK’s hub airport and opening up new trade opportunities which could deliver a further boost to the northern economy.”

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