TUC and NPP call for new “cross-party consensus” on infrastructure investment 


A joint statement from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and Trades Union Congress

Transport infrastructure is the backbone of a productive, prosperous economy.

Today (Tuesday 14 November) we are convening experts and policy-makers with Government and Labour leaders to discuss a new, more strategic approach to delivering major rail projects.

We are pleased that the Rail Minister has listened to concerns from Metro Mayors, civic leaders, businesses, and unions by protecting legislation for the crucial section of new track between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport, which constitutes the first phase of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

This has saved us from adding many years to the project’s completion date. Now it can and must be accelerated to keep certainty for the supply chain, as HS2 Phase 1 is built in the coming years.

The plan to link up the great cities of the North through transport connectivity is vital for connecting jobs and businesses to working people. This is at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse economic mission.

We cannot afford any more delay. We must seize this moment to a message to investors and business around the world that the North of England remains an unrivalled opportunity for strong, sustainable growth delivering high skilled, well-paid, unionised jobs.

We need immediate progress on improvements between York and Newcastle (which await approval), electrification between Selby and Hull (which needs work re-started) and a new Bradford station with an agreed cost. New lines will be built in time but in the first instance we need to deliver these immediate upgrades.

Equally, we need to find the right solution for improving connectivity between the Midlands and the North, including between Birmingham and Manchester, and Leeds and Newcastle. Holding off on land sales would not only avoid government making a loss on blighted land, it would give us time to consider critical technical questions and ensure we do not close off options for future development.

We are ready to learn the lessons from previous projects – both successful and unsuccessful – and to look at new delivery models and funding approaches which could help to deliver schemes more efficiently.

Those of us gathered here today – trade unions and businesses convened by our metro mayors – seek a new consensus across the North and the UK.

We need a stronger model of working that brings together business, unions and government to deliver large-scale infrastructure projects that are underpinned by good quality jobs.

This means a National Infrastructure Commission that is more independent and able to assure productivity and the debt burden implications of its recommendations.

We also need the National Infrastructure Commission to be more connected to local communities and to allow those relying on its work to secure private and public investment to sustain and create many more new workplaces.

Maintaining certainty in the face of political and economic instability as well as avoiding significant changes to agreed routes would help us deliver projects on time and to budget.

It’s time to return to the ambition of our predecessors – the Victorians who built infrastructure like the world’s first rail network which we continue to benefit from more than a century later.

We owe it to future generations to get this right, to build a more productive future which delivers more opportunities and more fulfilling lives for Northerners than what they can expect today.

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