Chamber Comments on Chancellor's Speech
Commenting ahead of the Chancellor's conference speech, Christian Spence, Head of Research & Policy at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:
“The Chancellor’s expected announcement over additional funding to ensure Crossrail North (Northern Powerhouse Rail/HS3) fully and efficiently connects with HS2 is an important step forward in ensuring that the longer-term infrastructure ambitions are joined-up. It is vital that we see schemes like this as a connected whole that is able to function as a true network, and not independent projects that, whilst in themselves add some value, fall somewhat short of their potential through a lack of genuine strategic planning.
“But this announcement is a necessary but insufficient step on its own. The uncertainty over Trans-Pennine electrification leaves many businesses across the North unclear whether government is truly committed to a faster, more efficient and more environmentally and fiscally sustainable Northern Powerhouse. The completion of the Ordsall Chord is now close, but this will stand as a bridge to nowhere which is incapable of delivering its full benefits without the expansion of capacity at Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly, and the Secretary of State must move quickly to show the required commitment and resolve to maximise the returns of this significant investment and innovative design.
“In the same way, the current review over electrification brings into doubt the journey time savings, more frequent services, more comfortable passenger environments and the carbon-saving benefits that this scheme would bring across Northern England. At a time when government is committed to phasing out diesel engines on the road, choosing to re-invest in an old technology now that will result in less green travel in the future, along with higher subsidies as diesel trains are more expensive to maintain, is a false cost saving. The Northern Powerhouse must be powered on the technology of the future, not of the past.”