MPs call for £39bn downpayment on Northern Powerhouse Rail

A group of more than 80 MPs have sent a letter to the chancellor Phillip Hammond calling for a firm financial commitment to deliver Transport for the North’s strategic plan and to fully devolve transport budgets to city and metro mayors.

Last week the chancellor informed the treasury committee that regional productivity and projects like the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) would form a key part of the Spending Review, which is now expected in the autumn.

The letter was prepared at the request of the co-chairs of the Northern Powerhouse All-Party Parliamentary Group, which comprises Conservative and Labour MPs, peers, business and civic leaders.

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, who co-chairs the parliamentary group, said: “As well as faster journey times, enhanced capacity and greater frequency, NPR would provide opportunities for our young people to secure the skilled jobs we need to drive productivity and link up the great cities of the north to stimulate economic growth.

“It is vital that NPR is delivered to the north alongside HS2, to create a high-speed network for the whole of the country and open up labour markets that are currently not accessible for young people across the north today. With HS2 and NPR it is not a case of either/or – we need both.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, commented: “The first downpayment we need on the overall long-term need of £120bn for major Northern Powerhouse specific transport and city region schemes, is £39bn for Northern Powerhouse Rail. Last week the chancellor committed himself to the case for the economics behind the project – which have consistently been government policy now for the almost five years since the Northern Powerhouse was first adopted.

“Business and civic leaders stand firmly behind our parliamentarians on a cross-party basis making the case for the key investment that the north needs, to grow our economy and close the north-south divide.”