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In conversation with Andrew Moffat, Board member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), about investment in the East Coast Mainline

A key driver for a strong and resilient economy is good connectivity. Without it, people, goods and data can’t be moved easily and efficiently, which impacts productivity and performance.

Connectivity is even more important to us here in the North East because of our geography. We, more than many other regions in the UK, rely heavily on road, rail, air and sea links to help us do business in the region, across the country and all over the world.

Our assets include the largest light railway system outside of London, an international airport, three major ports and a road network that links us to the rest of the country.

We also have an extensive rail network that provides us with regular and direct services to Scotland, London, Manchester and other key economic hubs in the UK.

Of course to remain competitive and to access markets, it’s essential we continually invest in our infrastructure to ensure it is future proof and fit for purpose. It’s for that reason I support the call for government to pledge significant investment in the East Coast Mainline.

The current East Coast Mainline is unable to cope with growing demand on the route. As well as carrying 15 million passengers from the region each year, the East Coast Mainline is a major freight route that supports the region’s expanding automotive industry and transports goods including coal and biomass.

The line reduces from four to two tracks north of Northallerton, which reduces capacity on the network and impacts its efficiency. Services on the line have also been subject to delays or cancellation because of ongoing under-investment.

For us to achieve the aims set out in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan and ensure the North East remains a key player in the Northern Powerhouse, we must build capacity on the network and make sure it’s ready to support HS2 services by 2033.

As the former Chief Executive of Port of Tyne, I know – first hand – how important our region’s rail system, and particularly the East Coast Mainline, is to our economy. Without it, Port of Tyne would have missed out on major contracts that helped us create jobs and boost the local economy.

Transport for the North is campaigning for better connectivity to unlock the economic potential of the North. Its proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail network would transform how people travel across the North and boost productivity by closing the gap with the South. The East Coast Mainline will have a major role to play so it is vital government make the funding available to carry out works the line so desperately needs.

A recent report into the benefits of investment in the East Coast Mainline found the impact of HS2 and investment in the line between York and Newcastle would generate around £493m of GVA to the UK economy each year and £100.42m GVA per annum for the North East.

As a region we must be better connected so we can access new markets and position ourselves as a major economic hub in the UK. We already have to work harder than other areas because of our physical location but by improving our transport infrastructure and ensuring it’s future proof, we can compete globally, grow our economy, create more and better jobs and bring more investment into the region.

By Andrew Moffat
Board member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Home / Transport

North East LEP Budget reaction (2016)

North East LEP Chief Economist Chris Milne gives his reaction to The Budget delivered today by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

“We welcome in particular the Chancellor’s announcement of £15m for a national institute for smart data innovation to be based in Newcastle working with partners across the region and nationally,” said Chris.

“The North East has a strong profile as one of the UK’s leading digital economic hubs. This new national institute will provide a focus for business to unleash the huge innovation potential in digital data which will deliver improvements to business and public services.

“This is a huge opportunity for the region to provide leadership and skills, ideas and resources in a global market worth $125bn annually.

“Investment in transport infrastructure – the A66 and A69 in particular – is also crucial for the growth of the North East economy and we will benefit from the £75m pot which the Government has allocated to develop the business cases for a number of transport projects.

“Regional connectivity remains an important issue for the North East and we will also benefit from broader connectivity projects to the M62.

“We welcome a range of other announcements that will have a positive impact for businesses, entrepreneurs and the income of households.”

Chris also commented on today’s Labour Market Statistics.

“It is encouraging to see continued improvement in the North East labour market following last month’s figures,” he said.

“They show that over the last quarter, the North East has seen the UK’s highest increase in people in work, the largest fall in unemployment and the biggest reduction in economically inactive people.

“The employment rate now stands at a record 70.6%, the highest rate going back to 1992.”

Home / Transport

Have a say on the future of transport in the North East

Today the consultation window opens to give people across the North East a chance to talk about the future of transport throughout the region.

The North East Combined Authority (neca) is setting the wheels in motion for plans to launch a 20-year ‘Transport Manifesto’ that covers both ‘urban and rural’ geographic areas of Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

The manifesto ‘Our Journey’ will feed into the local transport plan for the combined authority area and will set out how neca intends to deliver on its ambition to promote affordable, attractive, reliable, safe, healthy transport choices for businesses, residents and visitors.

If you’ve ever been on a journey using local transport and said to yourself “I should really mention this to someone” – whether it be good or bad, then now is your chance.

The outcome of the manifesto will be beneficial to residents, businesses and visitors to the North East as transport is a vital commodity that keeps the region moving.

The consultation will look at a variety of transport options including road, rail, air and sea.

The North East Combined Authority area ‘Transport Facts’ at a glance:

• Covers 3,200 square miles of urban and rural communities
• 2 million residents
• 4.1 million visitors a year
• 200,000 people commuting into urban centres
• 38,000 small and medium-sized enterprises
• The largest car plant in the UK by far

Newcastle City Councillor Nick Forbes, Chair of the Transport North East Committee, said: “The aim of this Transport Manifesto is to put passengers at the heart of the North East’s transport network.

“Across the region, people rightly demand a transport system that works for them, that is reliable, easy to use and affordable. Now is your chance to ensure you have a say over how we tackle the issues holding us back as a region.

“For the first time in many decades the region is coming together, as Transport North East, to set a vision. But it is not up to politicians to decide on our transport priorities; the vision of the region has to be one we all contribute to. This document will guide our way for the next two decades, from everything to our approach to Metro ticket prices to which major roads we seek to upgrade.

“It is the passengers, the motorists, the cyclists and other transport users who will shape this region, and their feedback on this manifesto is vital.”

The Transport Manifesto will help to empower the region and reinforce its position of being a national and international force. It will allow the subject of transport to underline its importance in areas such as economic growth, the environment and health.

Durham County Cllr Neil Foster, vice chair of Transport North East Committee, said: “Having efficient and reliable transport systems in place is a crucial part of our drive for economic growth.

“We need to ensure that residents in both urban and rural areas, whether they travel by car, use public transport or cycle, can access services, leisure, jobs and training opportunities.

“Businesses – including those which are already based in the North East and those thinking of investing here – need to be able to have confidence in the transport networks within our region and those which connect us to national and international markets.

“We want people’s views on these important transport plans which will help to shape our region over the next 20 years.”

Another valuable feature of the Transport Manifesto is the opportunity to discuss and raise the public profile of ‘Sustainable Travel’ that helps to reduce carbon emissions into the environment and minimise local air pollution. Sustainable Travel represents areas of transport like walking, cycling, public transport, car sharing and taxis – where people use leg and lung power or join others on their travels.

Northumberland County Councillor Allan Hepple, vice chair of Transport North East Committee, said: “It’s important people take this opportunity to put their views forward.

“As a largely rural county, many residents and visitors will have first-hand experience of the difficulties that can be faced in travelling between areas using public transport.

“If we are to develop the infrastructure and grow the economy of this region it’s vital the right transport options are in place. This consultation is a great opportunity for people to have their say on future plans.”

North Tyneside Councillor John Harrison, vice chair of Transport North East Committee, said: “We strongly believe that by working together to get the correct transport infrastructure in place, the region’s economy will be in a great position to prosper.

“It is important that residents and visitors to the North East are able to rely on good transport and this manifesto is a significant step forward towards reaching our goal.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the public to shape transport in the region and I would encourage as many people as possible to have their say on the manifesto before the deadline on April 8.”

Whether you use transport for the school run, getting to work, visiting friends, going shopping, moving goods or exploring the region – the manifesto team would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

The best way to cast your vote or send in your views is by visiting the NECA website www.northeastca.gov.uk/transport-north-east-and-transport-manifesto or by contacting 0191 277 1156 for a hard copy to be posted out to you.

The closing date for responses is Friday 8th April 2016.