Clear timetable needed to keep Northern Powerhouse on track

Penny Marshall, ICE North East's director.
Penny Marshall, ICE North East's director.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East has called for a new timetable for upgrades to rail infrastructure to be published as soon as possible, to keep the Northern Powerhouse on track.

Following today’s news that the electrification of the line between Manchester and Leeds, which directly links to the North East, has been delayed, Penny Marshall, ICE North East’s director, said: “While Government has stressed that there will be no cuts to rail investment, and that electrification programme is only pausing until the new Network Rail chair has undertaken a review, the set-back is still disappointing. It is important that a new timetable is established as soon as possible so confidence in the Northern Powerhouse vision is maintained.

“This issue also brings to the fore the need for a national transport strategy. The Manchester to Leeds electrification project plays a vital role in better connecting our northern cities, but the wider electrification programme is also a catalyst for improved capacity, resilience and decarbonising the rail network as a whole. If we are going to achieve this, projects should be developed as part of a long-term vision, not in isolation.”

Earlier this month, in an open letter, more than 60 business leaders from across Northumberland and the North East called on the region’s representatives to embrace the Northern Powerhouse, which is one of the Government’s flagship policies, aimed at boosting economic growth across the north of England.