Why we should be Very Cross (Rail)

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 28th, Jul

The announcement of the Government’s £30bn investment into Crossrail quite rightly provoked indignation across the North this week, coming mere days after the postponement and cancellation of critical electrification schemes across the wider UK network.

Deeply concerning to businesses in Liverpool City Region is the current state of infrastructure in the North West which is essentially having to run to stand still. A lack of additional capacity on the West Coast Main Line has inhibited freight transport for many years – the arrival of HS2 (eventually) will only partially alleviate this pinch point, particularly from a start-end point of Liverpool. Until then, the speed of freight mobility along the line will be glacial at best.

The Government has previously talked a very good game in its various iterations since 2010, proclaiming the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ with its commitment to improving connectivity, as an essential requirement to “rebalance the economy” (which remains the key, fundamental argument for the HS2 business case). There had been some progress, following substantial lobbying from local authorities and business groups, with the real prospect of East-West connectivity improvements from Liverpool to Hull/Newcastle. The creation of Transport for the North was also a vitally important statement of intent and Northern Powerhouse Rail (“Crossrail for the North”) began to seem possible. And now this.

This isn’t about the North v the South. There is no doubt that Crossrail 2 is an important piece of infrastructure for London. However the figures quoted, in proportion to the level of investment outside the South East, make dismal reading and simply serve to undermine the commitments previously made as part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

The cancellation of the electrification of the Great Western Railway also has a knock on effect on the rest of the network as rolling stock earmarked for the North will now not be available – this surely puts some of the infrastructure work scheduled for the Transpennine route in danger of either not happening, or not being worth the effort. 

It is encouraging that our politicians appear to be saying “enough is enough”, as reflected in the statements issued by Mayors Burnham and Rotheram in response to Chris Grayling’s announcement. Our Chamber members share that sentiment.

It is now time for Chambers and other business groups in the North to reinforce our commitment and determination to ensure that the region not only has the investment in infrastructure we need to enable a positive future for our economy but also to make sure that the government fully understands the impact that future investment decisions will have on businesses across North.

Anything less and we have failed in our responsibility.

Leave a comment

Give Your Business Utilities a Refresh for 2020

Mon 20th, Jan

January is a time for reflection for most people and this includes business owners, with the new year bringing with it an opportunity to take stock of performance during the past 12 months, create goals for the year ahead, and ensure...

The Inspired Energy Journey: Building a Business to Meet Diverse Needs

Mon 20th, Jan

Since its inception back in 2000, Inspired Energy has been working tirelessly to build the most complete utilities management solution available – a solution that can meet the diverse needs of businesses of all sizes and across all sectors.

What did the Millennium Bug teach us about cybersecurity?

Thu 09th, Jan

It’s hard to believe that two decades have passed - but 20 years ago the world was celebrating a momentous non-event. We remember it well!

Why Should You Check Your Business Energy Bills?

Wed 18th, Dec

Business energy bills are complex, there’s no doubt about that. With a widening range of non-commodity costs now taking up a majority share of the invoice, it can be be both confusing and time consuming to effectively recognise whether your...

Green Energy – Going Green Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth

Wed 18th, Dec

In the third quarter of 2019, electricity generated in the UK via renewable energy sources surpassed electricity derived from fossil fuels for the first time.