£100bn transport plan for North offers ‘precious little’ for Hartlepool says MP

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

Outline proposals for a 30-year transport infrastructure plan for the North includes “precious little” for the North East says Hartlepool’s MP.

Mike Hill says much of the proposed investment by newly established statutory body Transport for the North is centred mainly around the Greater Manchester and Leeds areas.

A Grand Central train in Hartlepool

A Grand Central train in Hartlepool

North East Labour MPs received a presentation from officials leading Transport for the North which has the aim of making the case for large-scale investment in transport links across the North to improve connectivity and drive economic growth.

But Mr Hill was not impressed. He said: “Transport for the North doesn’t appear to have much of a strategy for improving transport links in the North East and the focus of serious investment appears to be around the Greater Manchester and Leeds areas where HS2 will feature heavily.

“TftN might talk about improving facilities on the East Coast mainline including improvements to Darlington Station and a new Tees crossing to improve flow of traffic on the A19, but in reality there’s not much on offer between Leeds and Scotland, as if the North doesn’t really count or exist.”

He added any plans will depend on the approval of Highways England and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Mr said Hartlepool’s needs include more train journeys to and from Newcastle and faster, modern carriages; a direct bus link between Hartlepool and North Tees hospitals, improved frequency of Grand Central trains to London; and greater use of the Transport Interchange by more bus companies.

Mr Hill added a new Tees Crossing should be supported but needs to be backed up by better transport links to access Hartlepool.

“In order to do us justice and get people in to experience the wonderful tourist and business offer we have we need a transport plan to suit Hartlepool and sadly it looks like we are a million miles away from that,” he said.

Priorities of the transport plan for the Tees Valley area include major improvements to the A66, a new River Tees road crossing, and redeveloping Darlington railway station on the East Coast mainline.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Redeveloping Darlington station and improving the A19 and A66 are absolutely critical if we are to build Tees Valley that works for everyone.

“Over the coming months, I’ll be pushing to ensure this vision is backed up by proper financial commitments from government.”

It is said the plans could deliver a £100 billion boost to the economy and 850,000 additional jobs by 2050.

A 13-week public consultation is now underway.

John Cridland, Transport for the North chairman, said: “This is an ambitious programme that will improve our roads and railways, and will also drive a sea change in skills development in the North and ensuring we meet that historic gap in investment.

A final version of the plan will be published later in the year and submitted to the Government for ministerial consideration.

Find out more at www.transportforthenorth.com.