THE LARGEST RAIL INVESTMENT SINCE THE VICTORIAN AGE?
With HS2 in full swing, the Government has announced plans for a new train link between Manchester and Leeds (HS3), which will cut the travel time between the two cities by half an hour. This is the first stage of a huge infrastructure investment in the North of England, with £300 million expected to kick-start the major transportation refresh.
HS3 is a key part of the Northern Powerhouse plan that will attempt to attract new businesses and future investment. The project is expected to be a mixture of new build rail tracks and existing ones, stretching from Liverpool in the West, to Hull in the East.
However, are these new improvements too little, too late? After speaking to the BBC in a recent article, Chris Hyomes – chair of Railfuture in Yorkshire - said: "George Osborne needs to find out how to speed the process up [of updating the national rail network and roads] and make it simpler so these improvements happen quicker.”
As well as HS3, there are also plans for an 18 mile, trans-Pennine tunnel linking Manchester to Sheffield. This will be the longest tunnel ever constructed in Europe and could cut half an hour travel time off the journey between the two cities.
The tunnel will be so long that some are questioning whether it will cause psychological problems for the drivers, such as claustrophobia as well as physical problems such as poor air quality and poor visibility.
What is clear is that this represents a step forward for the UK in regards to tackling the critical issue of our aging infrastructure. The next step will be finding the skills and resources which will enable the creation of modern roads and rail networks to allow safer access and shorter commuting times.