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PM’s commitment to Northern Powerhouse investment welcomed

The prime minister has reiterated his commitment to delivering the first leg of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) between Manchester and Leeds.

Speaking at the Tory conference in Manchester today, Mr Johnson said: “Towns in the North of England are suffering from a lack of love and investment.

“We’re improving connectivity. The fantastic project of Northern Powerhouse Rail is now getting the go-ahead from Manchester to Leeds, just the first leg.”

The project would, he later said, “link up the whole of the northern region”.

In one of his first speeches as prime minister in July, Mr Johnson said that the government was committed to the TransPennine rail link and said firm details of the plan would be released once Douglas Oakervee’s HS2 review had been completed.

After the speech Gleeds CEO Graham Harle praised the PM’s “upbeat approach”, telling Construction News that “his promise of government funding to energise NPR is welcome”.

Mr Harle added: “We just need to ensure that warm words are matched by solid action and that promises of this kind are not just convenient soundbites but actual committed expenditure.”

Scape Group chief executive Mark Robinson welcomed the statement. He said: “The aspirations for the region are intrinsically linked to ensuring we have adequate transport infrastructure in place, as this keeps our local communities moving and our economies growing.”

But he added: “We cannot lose sight of the fact that there are towns outside of the Manchester to Leeds route that are in desperate need of improved connections in order to reach their full potential.”

The prime minister also used his speech to emphasise his commitment to leaving the EU on 31 October, “come what may”. He said “If we fail to get an agreement […] the alternative is no deal. It is an outcome for which we are ready.”

Mr Johnson also referred to the Tory commitment to deliver 40 new hospitals “in 10 years” and £25bn roads investment, detailed by Matt Hancock and Sajid Javid in the previous days of the conference.


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