By Victoria Adams, Public Affairs Director
Now that the dust has settled after the general election, and we are nearing 31st January, policy influencers and makers alike are keeping their eyes on the Prime Minister’s post-Brexit domestic agenda.
If Boris Johnson truly wants the country to ‘level up’ (especially after having won so many traditional Labour seats in the North) then the government must make serious investment in terms of cash, infrastructure and jobs. That’s if the Conservatives are to have a hope of retaining these seats for another term.
Many of these areas have had negative experiences with Train Operating Companies (TOCs), most notably TransPennine Express and ScotRail. Grant Shapps has expressed a willingness to intervene to see improvements with these TOCs as part of wider reforms to the rail industry that are due to be revealed in the coming months.
Although Boris previously promised to ‘do devolution properly’ which would include more powers over transport, it is not just the existing rail links that need significantly improving. New East to West connections in the North of England need serious consideration from the Government. Transport for the North has identified three key East to West connections which would connect the energy coasts, the Central Pennines and the South Pennines. Connecting key economic centres where there are no substantial rail links would transform economic activity and productivity in the region.
Investing in infrastructure in the North isn’t just a good thing in itself but will have a transformative effect on economic growth in the region. Despite many thriving businesses in key cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, overall productivity in the North lags around 15% behind the UK average. Better and more reliable transport and infrastructure will create potential for more highly skilled jobs, higher levels of enterprise and greater collaboration across and between northern cities.