13 August 2015

Ministers have begun to put some detail into the Government's concept of a Northern Powerhouse, unveiling a blueprint for how £13 billion of investment in transport will be spent in the north.

Improving transport links is seen as integral to plans to close the economic gap with the south, by helping the north unleash its full power. The aim is to strengthen connections, including Liverpool to Hull, and the North West to Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "We had a choice — building the infrastructure our country needs, or letting our transport system become a brake on growth and opportunity. We have chosen to invest for the future."

The "Blueprint for connecting the Northern Powerhouse", which can be found at http://bit.ly/1HDly7x, appears at first glance to be merely a sketch map of the region showing existing road and rail links.

However, the sub-headings (Liverpool and the North West; Manchester and cross-Pennines; Leeds and the North East) can be opened to reveal details of planned road and rail improvements.

Work has already started on major projects including: re-drilling the Farnworth Tunnel to provide faster journeys between Manchester, Bolton and Preston by the end of 2016; and improving the A1 in Northumberland so that, for the first time, there will be a dual carriageway from London to Ellingham, 34 miles north of Newcastle.

Andy Clarke, CEO of Asda, which is based in Leeds, said: "Businesses need the right infrastructure and the confidence that government is supporting, not thwarting, their ambitions. Linking our great cities will help to fuel this engine for growth while creating more jobs and opportunities, and the transport schemes being announced today are welcome progress."