NORTHERN leaders are calling for the Government to commit to a £5bn infrastructure pipeline of projects, with hopes of rebuilding and transforming the region’s economy.

Transport for the North (TfN) said that its plan would create up to 20,000 construction and design jobs and deliver a £3 return on investment for every £1 spent.

The organisation set out initial plans for a Northern Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), a 30-year investment plan of infrastructure projects to underpin greener Northern growth.

This £5bn pipeline includes rail, road, active travel, and smart ticketing, some of which could be underway the next six to 18 months.

The NIP underpins TfN’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) recently agreed by the North’s business and civic leaders.

Today marked the announcement of the first tranche of 166 projects that could help create new job opportunities in the North.

The ERP is aimed at accelerating delivery of infrastructure projects with hopes of helping to rebuild and transform the North by making transport more accessible and inclusive, while also decarbonising the economy in the years to come.

Cllr Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council said that investment in the region’s transport network is “imperative” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: “The Northern Infrastructure Pipeline contains key projects that will make an immediate difference to residents and businesses, creating 20,000 jobs, boosting our economy and connecting people and opportunities.

"It also includes improvements to road and rail that will transform and future-proof our transport infrastructure for years to come, while developing green travel options that will be crucial as the region works to become carbon neutral.

“Good transport links are a major factor for businesses considering investing in an area and have been instrumental in the creation of sites such as Newton Aycliffe Business Park, along with the development of Integra 61 near Durham and Jade Business Park near Seaham, which will deliver more than 6,000 jobs for the region.

"The Northern Infrastructure Pipe line builds upon this success.

"Reopening the Leamside Line is a good example, as this would not only make rail services more accessible to residents but it would increasing capacity at Durham Railway Station, bringing more people into the county and boosting our economy.”

The plan aims to rebuild and transform the capacity and resilience of the North’s rail network, laying the groundwork for projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail.

It also highlights the need for accelerating the green transition, including pilots of hydrogen and battery powered trains, as well as rolling out essential charging infrastructure from electric vehicles.

Barry White, chief executive at Transport for the North, said: “Our focus must be on rebuilding the North’s economy, which was already at an economic disadvantage to the South before Covid-19 hit.

The Northern Echo:

“Our Economic Recovery Plan outlines quick-fire ways to rapidly invest in shovel-ready infrastructure projects and initiatives, helping rebuild and transform the North over the next few years.

“It’ll help better connect communities, slash carbon emissions from transport in the North and support people in living healthier lives.

“Crucially, these aren’t new or over-ambitious asks.

"They’re projects already in the system that now need the starting gun firing or a bit of work to nudge them across the line.

“We have welcomed the Government’s ambition to accelerate projects and this is a great opportunity for its recently formed Northern Transport Acceleration Council to drive forward the delivery of projects.

“This sets up a great combination – Transport for the North using its local knowledge to identify projects and Government using its political heft to push forward delivery.

"The Economic Recovery Plan, and the Northern Infrastructure Pipeline within it, is aimed at how we rebuild and transform the North.

“It shows Northern leaders coming together at a time of national crisis and putting a united, pragmatic plan to our partners in Government, outlining some of the priority projects and when they could be delivered with the right will and collaboration.”

Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, said the plan had the authority’s “full backing”.

“We are England’s largest county and our residents need better, greener transport options especially east-west links, as they travel around,” he said.

“We have a range of proposals for investment in rail, roads and facilities for cycling and walking, and will continue to work alongside TfN to make these happen.”