Connect Manchester and Leeds to Drive Growth in the North

A new Centre for Cities report, supported by the Department for Transport, singles out improved rail linkages between Manchester and Leeds as the critical first step to turning the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ political rhetoric into reality

Press release published on 20 October 2014

Fast Track to Growth – Transport Priorities for Stronger Cities argues that connecting the two biggest and most successful Northern cities first would create an economy of significant scale in the North of England, building a more dynamic and attractive business environment with a better capacity to drive growth and prosperity. This would complement and strengthen current planned investment in the network, such as HS2, and ensure its benefits can be maximised in the long-term.

The report shows how linking cities with faster, more frequent transport systems enables their businesses to collaborate and share knowledge, networks and services. And for workers, these connections provide access to a considerably larger pool of job opportunities, and much greater flexibility in where they can choose to live and work.

Ms Alexandra Jones, CEO, Centre for Cities, said:
“The Manchester to Leeds route currently takes almost twice as long to travel as the longer distance between London and Milton Keynes. The capital’s rail connections to neighbouring cities have played an important part in building strong and successful economies across the South East, and the evidence strongly suggests that Manchester and Leeds would benefit enormously from quicker and more frequent connections. This is a critically important, well-overdue upgrade that should be the first stage of delivering on the Government’s ambition to build a Northern powerhouse.”


Aside from improving intercity rail links, the report also highlights the need for targeted investment to build better transport connections inside the UK’s largest cities, connecting workers living in outer-city areas with work opportunities in their centre cores.

Fast Track to Growth shows the critical role transport has to play in developing the UK’s city economies – linking people to their workplaces, and connecting businesses to their collaborators, competitors and labour force,” said Ms Jones.

“There is no doubt that the UK has pressing infrastructure challenges, and in a time of continued fiscal constraint, Government must phase investment, prioritising areas where it can have the greatest impact.”

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