train station

In order to flourish, UK regions need a stronger say over their own futures. Commitment to transport infrastructure funding for UK regions should be prioritised as part of the devolution agenda.

Last week, Transport for the North (TfN) announced a £70bn 30-year strategic transport plan which aims to rebalance decades of underinvestment in the North of England. The business argument for increased investment is compelling with the economic rewards including increased productivity, £97bn increase in GVA and an additional 850,000 jobs created over the investment period to 2050. 

The plan outlines a vision to better connect key towns and cities within the North and would place 1.3m people without an hour’s train journey of Manchester Airport. Better connectivity between major economic centres improves the physical links between potential collaborators, wider access to opportunities for the workforce and consequently a wider labour market for businesses. 

The plan comes as Business West, representing Bristol and the West of England, held The West of England Transport Summit last month (23rd Jan) to present a vision for major investment in public transport to ensure the future mobility of workers with the region. 

At the event – attended by over 150 business from across the region – Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said:

“Our major cities such as those in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Teesside need to maximise use of their elected mayors as they are a powerful tool in engaging with central Government.”

A bold vision that places the needs of business at the centre can help connect the major economic areas and thriving metro regions are the building blocks of a strong national economy. Alongside a commitment to major long-term infrastructural investment, the government must engage with each metro region to ensure that bodies such as TfN are endowed with the necessary power to implement their recommendations.