Last week “The Economist” magazine carried a piece about investment in transport infrastructure across the English regions. A small graphic showing capital investment in infrastructure placed Yorkshire and Humber at the bottom of the regional league table. London (of course) topped the table by a country mile with estimated expenditure at a little under £2000 per head of the region’s population. In Yorkshire and Humber it was put at less than £250 per head.
As we endure the pleasures of bus based Pacer trains from the 1980s, under investment on the East Coast Main Line, congestion on the M62, A64 and A19 and the absence of a modern mass transit system in Leeds, I am sure we all take comfort in the benefits of the new Elizabeth Line at £15bn and a new trains programme for Thameslink valued at £6.5bn. Let’s not mention Crossrail and maybe even Crossrail 2 to come or the dubious benefits of HS2 to the north and north east.
Government announcements in July ended hopes of transport investment in south Wales, the East Midlands and the North in favour of London – “the highest priority”.
The productivity benefits of investing in modern transport infrastructure cannot be denied. That after all is the basis of the investment in London and the south east, but it is negligent almost beyond belief to ignore the pressing and significant needs of the regions, and the North in particular, to such an extent, and to forego the social and economic harvest that investment in the North would bring.