An East-West tunnel connecting Lancashire and the North West with other key areas is vital, a Northern Powerhouse conference agreed.
The region’s best thinkers and leaders unanimously concluded that the area’s East to West links – connecting Manchester with Newcastle and wider eastern towns and cities is key for the region.
Together, they laid out the three most pressing priorities for enhancing transport across the Northern Powerhouse, with introducing “smart motorways” first on the list.
Second was the consideration of a Trans-Pennine tunnel, better connecting the East and West of the region.
John Cridland, chairman of Transport of the North, urged that if we are serious about the Northern Powerhouse we have to be “serious about the Trans-Pennine tunnel.”
Third and crucially, all panellists called for a long term strategy and urged politicians to look beyond their five-year term in power.
While short term solutions can relieve pressure to traffic congestion and improve capacity, a ‘sharper look into the future’ is required to make the difference needed to stimulate growth.
Significant announcements about the future of the Northern Powerhouse were expected across both days of the sell-out conference.
Developed by business for business, the event was the biggest commercial conversation in a generation and offers an opportunity to collaborate, network and shape the opportunities created by the incoming wave of devolution and investment in the North.
Key figures in attendance, alongside regional and global business leaders, included Lord O’Neill, commercial secretary to HM Treasury, Sir David Higgins, executive chairman of HS2, as well as the chief executives of all the major cities of the North.
Keith Griffiths, managing director of the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition said: “As of 2017, directly elected mayors will be awarded greater powers over areas such as housing, economic development, skills and inward investment, and billions of pounds will be invested in infrastructure to connect the 15 million people of the North and help businesses grow.
“These policy changes provides a welcome focus on the economic potential of the great cities of the North, but it is ultimately up to the business community to deliver the thousands of jobs and attract the billions of pounds of investment.”