Regional commuter network needs development

Several top business leaders are now pushing for government development of the regions as the best way to get UK productivity out of the current doldrums, back on track and closing the gap with the rest of the G7

In particular, they focus on the need to greatly improve public transport within, not between, those regions – regional rebalancing is needed

The Manchester region, aka Jim O’Neill’s Northern Powerhouse, is a good example where the government has already promised a further £300m investment on rail there and an extra £100m on road improvements

Manchester is one of the top three UK cities but it’s quicker to travel from there to London than to cross from one side of it to the other

Equally, according to Philip Aldrick in The Times, London is closer to Paris by rail than Hull is to Liverpool

He says one reason for London’s greater productivity, and so wealth, is the sophistication of its commuter network

Studies have shown that people tolerate roughly an hour’s travel but much more than that and the pool of labour available to an employer shrinks

With such a shallow pool of talent in sites as stranded as Cheshire science park, businesses would have to think twice about putting down roots there

Conversely, getting transport links right could reap big rewards – big labour pool increases, many more companies moving to the area, regional productivity rising by 10% or more

The CBI reckons that if the North were better connected, this would create a metropolitan area of 16 million people within an hours commute of work – the equal of London

They claim the prize would be an extra £200 billion from improved national productivity

Hence one can only hope the government comes good on its promise to put the regions at the heart of its industrial strategy


1 comment

    • Hugh Doughty on 2 September 2017 at 11:36 AM
    • Reply

    Great blog. Interesting points well made.

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