BUDGET 2015: Lack of investment in transport cause for disappointment

A First Transpennine Express train.

A First Transpennine Express train.

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A Lancashire-based expert said today he was “disappointed” that George Osborne made no major announcements on transport infrastructure, despite the Northern Powerhouse being raised yet again.

Richard Evans, senior partner for KPMG in Preston, said: “Once again we have seen the Northern Powerhouse being a key plank to the Chancellor’s Budget announcement. We have always maintained that for the Northern Powerhouse to succeed, all parts of the region need to be brought on board, so it was encouraging to hear that following the lead set by Manchester, devolution deals are in the pipeline for the likes of Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield.

“However, it was incredibly disappointing that no further announcements were made regarding investments in our regional transport infrastructure. While the introduction of an Oyster card system across the North is a nice gesture in principal, it will do absolutely nothing to alleviate the lack of capacity and very little to improve the connectivity on our region’s ever-crumbling rail network.

“Businesses across the North are becoming increasingly impatient, and are chomping at the bit to play their part. But their role must be underpinned by dramatic improvements to the transport infrastructure across the region to ensure our businesses, people and resources are better connected.”

Martyn Kendrick, area director for SME Banking in the North West, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Transport and infrastructure investment is absolutely key to the future prosperity of the north west.

“The Northern Powerhouse project in particular has the potential to be a catalyst for the kind of long-term growth that can help balance the UK economy, and it is reassuring that the chancellor seems determined to make sure the project stays on track.

“It will link Manchester with Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield in a way that will accelerate economic development across the north, but the government must commit the cash that is needed to upgrade the rail infrastructure without undue delay.

“North west businesses are poised to take advantage of new growth opportunities and Lloyds Bank is committed to supporting them in achieving their full potential and helping Britain prosper.”