In October 2015, the National Infrastructure Commission was asked to advise on strategic improvements to transport connectivity in the North.
That advice was published in March 2016.
The Commission’s central finding: The North needs immediate and very significant investment for action now and a plan for longer term transformation to reduce journey times, increase capacity and improve reliability. On rail, this means kick-starting HS3, integrating it with HS2 and planning for the redevelopment of the North’s gateway stations. On roads, investment should be brought forwards for an early boost in capacity on the M62, the North’s most important east-west link, alongside funding to identify and assess proposals for tackling a range of other strategic challenges.
High Speed North makes recommendations to that end:
A higher speed, higher capacity, higher frequency network from Liverpool in the west to Hull and Newcastle in the east, incorporating key northern sections of HS2, upgraded lines, and sections of new track where necessary.
The development of the network should begin between Manchester and Leeds, the two largest economies of the North.
Phase one should reduce journey times from 49 to 40 minutes and increase capacity by 2022.
Phase two could cut times to just 30 minutes. An integrated plan covering both phases should be drawn up before the end of 2017.
Route decisions on the northern sections of HS2 to be announced later this year should support enhanced high-speed connections within the North, including between Leeds-Sheffield, Liverpool-Manchester, and Sheffield-Newcastle.
Redevelop Manchester Piccadilly
A long-term transformation of the station, combined with shorter-term delivery of additional east-west platforms, would unlock this hub and stimulate significant regeneration across 140 acres in central Manchester.
Highways England should accelerate enhancements to the M62 between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, which could cut journey times by up to 20% and increasing capacity by up to a third.
Development funding should be provided to accelerate the design of further enhancements to the road network, and better connections to Manchester International Airport should be prioritised.
At budget 2016 the government accepted the report in full.