One North: Region’s cities unveil joint plan for improved connections

A new £15 billion transport plan developed by a coalition of key Northern cities including Leeds was presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne and HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins today (Tuesday 5 August).

The report, One North: A Proposition for an interconnected North, has been formulated in response to the challenge set out by Sir David in his original report HS2 Plus and is being launched by an alliance of Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

The ambitious programme would maximise economic growth across the north, boosting transport links and helping rebalance the national economy.

If adopted the 15-year investment plan, which complements HS2 proposals, could deliver benefits for the whole of the north of England including up to 150 per cent additional capacity on roads and as much as 55 per cent faster journey times on a faster, more frequent rail network.

It would also deliver new trains running on a dedicated 125 mph trans-Pennine rail-link, a faster route to Newcastle and better access to ports and airports – improving freight and logistics movements across the country while benefiting personal and business travellers.

One North has been supported by a significant number of other key cities and regions including Bradford, Wakefield, York and Hull – who have all helped shape the findings of the report.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“The north has long been calling for better connectivity between cities outside London. Getting the right investment in our transport systems would deliver unprecedented change to better connect people and jobs, which is crucial if we also want to rebalance the national economy.

“This report demonstrates once again that only through tackling our out-dated transport system will the north be able to fulfil its true economic potential, benefiting our own local communities and the country as a whole.

“HS2, supported by strong regional transport networks, has the potential to bring transformational regeneration and investment to many of our cities and city regions. Building from the north would increase the pace of that change while at the same time delivering much needed jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities.”

Key economic benefits include the north becoming a destination of choice for investors, connecting businesses with workers, higher levels of productivity and competition, a modern infrastructure to support trade and industry, complimenting the economic benefits of HS2 for the north and ultimately producing a more productive northern economy.

Mark Goldstone, Head of Business Representation & Policy at West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Efficient transport connectivity is essential in making economies function and companies will invest in those locations where this provides convenient access to markets, materials and workforce.

“Transport infrastructure by its nature crosses borders and we are pleased to see joined up conversations around solutions which will benefit the north and allow it to play its part in rebalancing the UK economy.

“We welcome the One North proposition which takes a strategic and sufficiently long-term view of investment priorities across all transport modes providing a strong and galvanising voice for the city regions in the north.”

Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said:

“At the heart of this northern economic area, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is poised to maximise the opportunities to better connect our region to the north, south, east and west.

“Connectivity is the lynchpin of our Strategic Economic Plan which resulted in an historic Local Growth Deal settlement from government – the largest of any LEP area in the country. However, our current infrastructure cannot support the above trend growth we are proposing, to compete on a global platform and to attract the best skills and talent from across the world, and therefore we need to invest now to ensure good growth is felt in the region.

“I support the proposals set out in this One North report to ensure the north is connected in all directions. Alongside the investment from the Local Growth Fund and Transport Fund, we are committed to working with partners across the country to ensure our formidable set of economic assets are matched with a high performing transport network and world class digital infrastructure to connect people, places and jobs seamlessly.”

West Yorkshire Combined Authority chair, Councillor Peter Box, said:

“As the report sets out, the North of England has a population of 15 million, is larger than London and almost as big as the Netherlands but its economy is not achieving on that scale and this is partly due to a legacy of Government under-investment that means our transport network has not kept pace with growth in our economy and our workforce.

“This report’s proposals for a new cross-Pennine rail route, better highway links and improved local rail networks highlight exciting and ambitious opportunities for maximising economic across the north. Better connected, our cities, towns and districts would be able to maximise their massive potential in line with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s objective of boosting jobs and growth.

“Through the West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund and other connectivity improvements proposed in the Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan and endorsed in today’s One North report, we can unlock the full potential of the Government’s investment in HS2 and release billions of pounds of additional economic investment to create thousands of new jobs.”

Following the launch of the report, the partner cities will continue to work closely together and with key partners including Network Rail, the Highways Agency, HS2 and the Government to develop the report into a phased and integrated investment programme.

The report details transport investment across the north as a whole up to 2030 and it is estimated cost of between £10 and £15 billion, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

For example, the Northern Way study in 2009 identified that cutting journey times between Manchester and Leeds by just 20 per cent would be worth up to £6.7 billion to the north.

The report proposes:

• Increased road capacity for both freight and personal travel through extended managed motorways, addressing gaps in the network and improving links to ports.

• A very fast, frequent and high quality intercity rail network joining up city regions – including a new trans-Pennine route (tunnelled as necessary), a faster link to Newcastle and improved access to Manchester Airport.

• Improved regional rail networks to provide additional capacity and help sustain growth, interconnected with HS2 and intercity services plus local tram networks and more park and ride facilities.

• New rolling stock (as a priority), electrification of existing lines, higher service frequencies and addressing pinch-points on the rail network.

• A digital infrastructure enabling real-time information, greater network resilience and faster connections between key areas to personal and business users.

• Improved access to enable efficient freight movements by rail, road and water including ports, rail links and distribution centres.

• Building HS2 early – extending Phase One to Crewe and bringing forwards the delivery of HS2 between Leeds and Sheffield.

• Improving East/West rail freight capability across the Pennines, linking major ports to north/south rail routes


For media enquiries please contact:

Dan Johnson,

Leeds City Council press office,

Tel 0113 247 5472

Email: daniel.johnson2@leeds.gov.uk