Rail Investment for the North & Midlands: how to make it happen…

3 February, 2021

Greengauge 21 has undertaken a detailed review of the National Infrastructure Commission’s ‘Rail Needs’ report. While others have criticised the NIC’s report for not sticking rigidly with plans drawn up 11 years ago, we see it as an opportunity to accelerate benefits to the North & Midlands.

Our report – Meeting the Rail Needs of the Midlands and the North—a Review – calls for:

  • an adaptation of the north eastern arm of HS2 to serve all of the major cities east of the Peak District and Pennines
  • the development of an ‘X’ shaped HS2 network by adding a south western leg, with existing lines from Birmingham to the South West and South Wales electrified
  • building on what would become a first stage of HS2’s north eastern arm – a link from Birmingham to Nottingham.

You can download the full report, which contains an executive summary, here: Meeting the Rail Needs of the Midlands and the North – A Review

The report also highlights where HS2 technical scope can be refined with

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Response to the Union Connectivity Review

5 January, 2021

On 30th June 2020 the Prime Minister announced a review would be undertaken into union connectivity, exploring ways to improve connectivity between our 4 nations and bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects. Chaired by Sir Peter Hendy CBE, the review will make recommendations on how the UK government can level up transport infrastructure and improve connectivity between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, boosting access to opportunities and improving people’s everyday connections. It will look at how the quality and availability of transport infrastructure between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can support quality of life in communities across the UK while also aiding economic recovery, and make recommendations on whether and how best to improve connections, and whether that includes the need to invest in additional infrastructure by the UK government.

Greengauge 21 welcomes the creation of the Union Connectivity Review. We believe that there is much of significant value in the ambitions which the Government has set for it.

You can access our response to the consultation here: Union Connectivity Review Submission Greengauge 21 response

This submission is based on inputs from three of its senior personnel. Greengauge 21 is an entirely independent policy research organisation with no political or commercial affiliations.


Go Big – Go Local: New report from UK2070 Commission

2 October, 2020

The UK 2070 Commission has produced a report that calls on the government to Go Big, Go Local. The report is a follow up to one produced in February which found that the UK is the most unequal large country in the developed world, and highlights how only a balanced growth plan, a New Deal for Levelling Up is likely to deliver greater prosperity without having damaging environmental and social consequences.

Greengauge 21 produced the UK’s 2070 Transport Infrastructure Requirement as a contribution to the report – setting out how better sustainable transport connectivity can help rebalancing the UK by addressing its inequalities.

The Commission proposes a major programme of investment in transport, skills and the advanced economy coupled with a radical devolution of powers and funding from Whitehall, with immediate priorities for Government as follows:

  • A New Deal for Levelling Up the UK in with a minimum budgetary commitment in the 2020 Spending Review in the order of £150bn over the next 10-years
  • A commitment to full fiscal devolution to the devolved nations and local councils in England, decentralisation of government itself and establish a Commission to report back by the new parliamentary session in Autumn 2021.
  • Ensure that COP26 2021 Glasgow programme on climate change embeds the principles of a Just Transition to Zero-carbon economy
  • Establish a Cross Departmental Committee to audit and recommend how to embed the Levelling Up agenda in all government programmes and policies, including setting out a National Outcomes Framework
  • Establish Accelerator Task Forces for creating Global Centres of Excellence in the North, Midlands and the West of England, with parallel initiatives in the devolved nations
  • Expand the role of the National Infrastructure Commission to include preparation of a Spatial Framework Plan for England with a linked 10-year action programme and collaboration with the devolved nations.

Read the report here: Go Big Go Local – the UK 2070 Report on a New Deal for Levelling Up the UK


What is the purpose of HS2’s Eastern Arm?

30 July, 2020

The Eastern Arm of HS2 is a critical part of an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands but its role and function can be significantly strengthened says a new report by Greengauge 21.

The report from Greengauge 21 calls for clarity on the role and function of HS2’s planned eastern arm.

“Ten years ago, the aim was to get an HS2 London-Leeds journey time to match Manchester’s”, says report co-author Jim Steer. To achieve this, trains would pass through the East Midlands and South Yorkshire non-stop. This means that the key intermediate cities of Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield would need to be served by new connections to the HS2 line, to be funded outside the HS2 project.

“The original ambition is

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High Speed Rail and Scotland

11 June, 2020

Our latest report – High Speed Rail and Scotland – shows that joining the route to Scotland would not only enhance connectivity between our two nations by cutting travel time between London and Scotland to just over three hours, it would also pave the way for a significant reduction of carbon emissions in line with the Scottish Government’s 2045 net zero target, and help to level up the north of England post Covid-19.

The report, produced for the High Speed Rail Group, sets out how through a programme of upgrades to existing lines, combined with new dedicated sections of high speed line, joining HS2 to Scotland will boost capacity and meet the projected demand for both freight and passenger travel, whilst cutting journey times to 3h10. Since 2006, passenger numbers have increased between Glasgow and London by 120%, between Manchester-Scotland by 191%, and Birmingham-Scotland by 261%.

With the Scottish Government targeting net zero by 2045 and the UK Government committing to

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The Rail Needs of the North and the Midlands

20 May, 2020

Government’s intention to develop an integrated rail plan for the North and Midlands is welcome.

This requires strategic planning, not just prioritising projects. The outcome should be a programme of rail network development designed to meet Government objectives. Today, these centre on national economy recovery and decarbonising the transport sector – both must be regarded as urgent.

Planning efforts to date, seeking to tie together HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail have been mis-guided. Creating a £80bn mega-project doesn’t address the problems on today’s network and will take at least 20 years to deliver. The Midlands and the North can’t wait that long. And it risks creating an investment gap. In our new report: Meeting Rail Needs in High Speed North we set out how this can be filled by a short and medium term programme of incremental improvements.

Projects developed pre-Covid centre on better connections between cities. Given that the railway is a network with hubs in city centres, that remains valid but it’s only part of what’s needed. There is also a Government aim to level up the economy and that means addressing places left behind – the smaller towns and cities of the North and Midlands – and not just the big cities.

With some adaptations to

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