Business groups warn infrastructure investment is a UK-wide issue

Rebecca Smith
The capital is keen for Crossrail 2 to follow the £14.8bn Crossrail project
The capital is keen for Crossrail 2 to follow the £14.8bn Crossrail project (Source: Getty)

Business leaders have warned that Britain's infrastructure investment cannot be seen as a "zero sum game", where either the capital or the north loses out while the other gets the green light for projects.

Former chancellor George Osborne this week called for high-speed rail lines to be built across the north of England, from Liverpool to Hull.

Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said today: "It’s clear that businesses in the North are concerned about the quality of transport infrastructure, and with good reason. Infrastructure investment should not be seen as zero sum game, however, and the North is not alone in wanting upgrades. Massive demand in London makes a strong case for Crossrail 2, for example."

Read more: Crossrail 2 boost: Mayor and DfT agree next steps for £31bn rail route

Northern business leaders have expressed a similar view on Crossrail 2 and the Northern Powerhouse, signing an open letter in the Yorkshire Post yesterday, saying "both schemes are vital for Britain's future".

Former Labour minister Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), added that there were a range of big developments that needed progress made on them swiftly.

"An HS3 network linking our great Northern cities can help secure the economic future of the region – but this should not be at the expense of other projects," he said.

The NIC has compiled a list of the 12 most pressing infrastructure priorities for Britain. On Crossrail 2 and the Northern Powerhouse, Adonis added, "we've continually stressed the importance of making progress on both of these by the end of the year".

Read more: These are the UK's 12 most pressing infrastructure projects

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said today that the north of England should "take control" of its own transport networks.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, the minister said while central government would fund any work, it was down to the region itself to design and manage them.

A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry said that "now is the time to step up a gear" on infrastructure investment.

"Infrastructure is at the heart of productivity growth, and therefore crucial to raising living standards. A determined focus on delivery will ensure the widest possible benefits are spread right across the United Kingdom," the spokesperson added.

Progress has been made on London's Crossrail 2, though funding has proved a sticking point, with the government saying the capital will need to foot half the cost of the £31bn rail project during construction. Grayling has said he will work with London mayor Sadiq Khan to ensure the scheme is viable.

Critics have said the progress is a kick in the teeth for the north however, after some rail electrification plans were scrapped last month.

London's deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, has said that the capital is willing to volunteer help on other schemes elsewhere in the country to get them running in parallel to Crossrail 2.

"I think the barriers as we see it at the moment, are possibly more about the fact that the Northern Powerhouse, or the northern rail project, there isn’t a scheme as such,” Shawcross told City A.M. in June. “It’s not as well developed technically and design-wise as the scheme in London.”

Read more: Chris Grayling: North should take control of its own transport

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