Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
The development of high speed rail to Manchester and Liverpool will help address the economic divide between the north and south, transport secretary Philip Hammond said today.
Speaking at the Transport Times Conference in Manchester, Hammond said that transport investment could play a role in “transforming” the economies of northern cities.
He said transport can have a vital role in delivering genuinely sustainable, balanced growth.
Improved transport links, and therefore business connections in the north would mean stronger growth for the whole of the UK, he maintained.
He said the gap between the north and the south had continued to widen over the past ten years, despite the renaissance of cities like Manchester.
Over the past decade, around half of the UK's economic growth has been concentrated in London and the south-east, said Hammond.
“If other parts of the country had matched the growth rate of London and the south-east, the UK would now have a GDP £38 billion bigger – about 2.5%,” he said.
“Unbalanced growth is not just bad for the north, it's bad for the entire country... The UK can't hope to prosper if half the country is left behind.”
High speed rail is a project of “immense strategic importance that has the potential to bring transformational economic benefits to the cities of the north”, said Hammond.
“This exciting and ambitious proposal lies at the heart of our strategy to rebalance and rebuild Britain's economy and spread prosperity across the country by shrinking the distances between our nation's regional capitals.”
However, Hammond said that London will remain the “principal” international gateway to Britain.
The transport secretary also restated the present government's view that there will be a modal shift away from air travel.
He said travellers from the north would even travel to some European cities such as Paris and Brussels by rail, but he stopped short of suggesting Schiphol as a viable rail destination.