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Publication date:- 2018-20-01

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Liverpool City Region leaders publish plan to transform the region

PLANS for future transport investment in Liverpool and the wider North of England have been outlined at an event marking the publication of a 30 year plan to drive economic growth. Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Mayor and Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee, which oversees the work of Merseytravel, launched the plan at Liverpool Life Science Accelerator in Liverpool. Health innovation is one of four regional strengths which have been identified as vital to transforming the Northern economy. The Accelerator provides laboratory space, business support and commercialisation, and networking facilities for both new and growing life science businesses.

Transport for the North's Strategic Transport Plan is the 1st of its kind and outlines how connections across the North of England need to be improved to drive growth and close the economic gap between the North and the rest of England. The public are now being asked to share their thoughts on the proposals through a 13 week consultation. Aimed at rebalancing the UK's economy through a sustained 30 year programme of transport infrastructure investment, the plan could deliver a ₤100 billion boost to the economy and 850,000 additional jobs by 2050.

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, said:- "This ambitious plan offers the possibility of transformational change for the North of England, including the Liverpool City Region, through influencing economic growth and rebalancing the economy in favour of the North. It is vital that we ensure that major transport projects benefit the whole of the North, and this plan sets out how we can make that happen. It is a significant step forward but must be delivered if we are to realise our ambitions, which will require support throughout the North. I'd like to ask people to take the time to respond to the public consultation, so we can be sure that the final plan reflects what is important to them."

Transport for the North is working to make it easier for people and goods to travel across the region, increasing access to jobs, supporting businesses and improving the movement of freight and goods across the North and to ports and airports, including the Port of Liverpool and Liverpool John Lennon Airport. 7 'corridors' of opportunity are identified in the plan that are key to achieving these aims.

The 'West and Wales' corridor will improve the movement of people and goods, to, from and through Cheshire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester and on into North Wales and the Midlands whilst the 'Central Pennines' corridor will improve East West connectivity for some of the North's important economic centres and assets in:- North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Riding and Hull and Humber through to:- Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool City Region.

Whilst a full list of the improvements which will be needed has not yet been published, emerging priorities for the Liverpool City Region and Cheshire area include the provision of a freight rail route across the central Pennines, enabling goods to travel off road between Liverpool and the Humber ports, the Growth Track 360 proposals in North Wales, Cheshire and the Wirral, rail connections between the Port of Liverpool and the West Coast Main Line, linking Liverpool directly to the HS2 network and dualling the A500. These are in addition to a series of baseline investment assumptions set out within the plan.

John Cridland, Transport for the North Chairman, said:- "The North is a rich, diverse region and home to around 16 million people. We have vibrant communities, buzzing Cities, 5 stunning national parks, an abundance of talent and a wealth of high performing businesses. Transport for the North's vision is of a thriving North of England, where modern transport connections drive economic growth and support an excellent quality of life. For the 1st time, civic and business leaders and transport operators are speaking with 1 voice on transport to make sure the North fulfils its potential. Our plan proposes a revolutionary investment programme that will make it possible to travel to high quality jobs. This is an ambitious programme that will improve our roads and railways, and will also drive a sea change in skills development in the North and ensuring we meet that historic gap in investment."

Alongside the corridors, Transport for the North has for the 1st time outlined its emerging vision for Northern Powerhouse Rail, a rapid, reliable and resilient rail network between the North's 6 biggest Cities and other significant economic centres. This is accompanied by an updated Rail Strategy for investment in the North's existing lines, stations, services and franchise operations, reflecting the planned integration of Rail North into Transport for the North in April 2018.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would give an additional 50.8% of the population of Liverpool City Region (over 777,000 residents) the ability to access 4 major Cities within 90 minutes from home whilst Liverpool itself would be within 75 minutes from home for over 5 million people.

In the short term, Transport for the North has commenced a rolling programme from now until 2021 to introduce integrated and smart ticketing across the North of England. This has included collaboration with Merseytravel and Merseyrail to enhance the established Merseytravel Walrus Smartcard scheme. The programme will make paying for and planning travel across the North much easier.

The investment priorities are backed up by research that links the North's prime capabilities in advanced manufacturing, digital, energy and health innovation. The cost of the 30 year plan is estimated to equate to less than ₤150 per Northern citizen per year, or ₤2 billion to 2.3 billion per year.

This figure also includes spending which would already be expected as part of ongoing strategic transport investment in the North, with only ₤50 per person per year (₤700 million to 900 million per year) additional spending. Regional spend figures issued by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority for the 4 years from 2017 calculated that projected Government spend on strategic transport will be ₤1,039 per head for the three Northern regions (North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humber).

The public consultation on the Strategic Transport Plan will run until 17 April 2018 with engagement events taking place across the North, including:- Crewe, on 19 February 2018, Liverpool, on 28 February 2018, Manchester Airport, on 7 March 2018, Llandudno, on 14 March 2018, Chester, on 15 March 2018, Warrington, on 22 March 2018 and Wigan, on 26 March 2018. A final version of the plan will be published later in the year and submitted to the Government for ministerial consideration.  Find out more by visiting:-

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