The Interconnected North: An Update on Northern Powerhouse Rail

November 2, 2019
The Interconnected North: An Update on Northern Powerhouse Rail

Last week, we attended Rail North in Bradford to hear about the future of interconnectivity in the North. In particular, the panels discussed the importance of high speed rail to making Bradford, and its neighbouring cities, thriving and successful communities. 

What Is Northern Powerhouse Rail?

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR - Also known as HS3) is a proposed high speed network in the North of England. It will connect major English cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. The network aims to regenerate the economy in isolated cities and create more opportunities for skilled workers.

Bradford, for example, is the largest city in the UK not on a fast rail connection but it has a huge population of skilled workers. Leeds and Bradford combined make up the biggest economy outside of London, but the impractically long commute between the two cities means that seventy-five percent have to commute by car. This highlights the severity of the connectivity problems in the North.

A Booming Northern Economy

HS2 and NPR are about so much more than making it easier to get into London. They are about bringing London up to the North: enabling the resurgence of a booming economy and growth of new markets. The technology industry, for example, is growing faster in the North than anywhere else, with skilled professionals moving from the South to join the revolution. Improved connectivity is now a necessity to ensure that young people and professionals can access new opportunities.

A Green Future

Hand in hand with this emerging workforce of young people is a trend towards greener travel. Fewer young people are learning to drive opting instead to commute by public transport. Responding to the climate emergency and increased demand, NPR aims to add more than five thousand five hundred seats between Manchester and Leeds.

How Will It Be Done?

There is a long history of Northern cities uniting to achieve a common goal. They are doing the same now with combined authorities and Transport for the North working to increase investment across the regions.

As well as working together to implement NPR, the North is prioritising mass transit improvements to connect different regions and improve access to cities and stations - enabling a door-to-door commute by public transport. West Yorkshire recently unveiled a £2 billion plan for mass transit including bus rapid transit systems and light rail. The Leeds City Region is currently the largest metropolitan area in Europe without an urban transit system.

Staying On Budget

Collectively, the UK is building its ability to deliver megaprojects by learning from others to improve. Previous success on northern contracts has built up confidence in the ability to deliver NPR but the fact remains that overspending affects the public view of infrastructure.

Northern Powerhouse Rail has a robust cost plan of £39 billion. In order to meet that budget, the project leaders must be fully connected to and communicative with the project teams at every stage.

Furthermore, learning from other projects shouldn't end at looking back at previous schemes and avoiding their mistakes. Megaprojects such as HS2, Crossrail, and NPR should stop working in silos. Each one enables the other but only if they communicate with each other and work together to manage investment into Northern transport. Collectively, the North must look outside of the box for more innovative solutions and delivery methods.

Enabling Communication Between Project Teams

Raildiary's market-leading construction management app facilitates real-time communication between project teams. Our project dashboards give an instant overview of planned vs actual works, costs, and outputs to help project management teams identify potential overruns and intervene before they affect overall performance.

Emilia Oates

Marketing Lead

Marketing Lead

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