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Any future Prime Minister must put the North at the front of the queue and commit to transformational investment schemes for our communities – that’s the message to would-be Conservative party leaders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.
Ahead of tonight’s (9 July) ITV debate, to be filmed in Salford’s Media City UK, Transport for the North has pressed both candidates to recognise the need to power up the North. We’re calling for committed development and capital funding for key rail and road schemes over the coming years, including a revolution of the North’s railway network with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
It follows a visit by Boris Johnson to Manchester Airport to witness construction of the Terminal 2 expansion, where delivery of a hub station as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 could increase the number of people within 90 minutes’ travel of the airport by 4 million to 8.7 million – over half of the North’s population.
Mr Johnson pledged his clear support for Northern Powerhouse Rail during the visit, where he told reporters that we need to “level up” the North’s economy, deliver ambitious infrastructure projects and consider further devolution.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s debate, Barry White, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said: “It’s promising to see the future success of the North – in particular the need for better transport – creeping up the agenda as part of this leadership contest, to the point where both candidates are being asked to make clear commitments to our communities.
“We want to banish the view of the ‘neglected North’ and, with real spending commitment for the future, unlock the potential of our towns and cities as one economy. That means any future Prime Minister must buy into and support the North’s vision.
“We’re ready to go, with a pipeline of short and long-term investment priorities for our infrastructure. Not least of these is Northern Powerhouse Rail, which would dramatically change the experience of rail travel right across the North for the better. We need Government to recognise how powerful a prosperous North will be for the benefit of the UK, and that should start right at the top with the Prime Minister.”