Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Investment Needed in the Region's Road and Rail Links

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Investment Needed in the Region's Road and Rail Links

Article excerpt

Byline: Graeme Whitfield Business reporter

PORTS in the North could provide a massive opportunity to grow the region's economy - but only with investment in east-west road and rail links, a report will today warn.

The Gateways to the Northern Powerhouse report by thinktank IPPR North, being released ahead of a new agreement by the North's four biggest port operators, says the region could provide lucrative trade links between continental Europe and the Atlantic if transport routes between the two sides of the UK are improved.

The report calls for the Government and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) in the North to invest in trans-Pennine road and rail links, saying that maximising opportunities from the region's ports are more important than ever after last week's vote to leave the EU.

Port operators on Teesside, Tyneside, Liverpool and Hull are working on a ground-breaking agreement to pursue a Northern Ports Strategy that aims to create new jobs in and around ports, and boost investment in the northern logistics network.

The report says that investment by port operators in the North has not been matched by public investment to increase the amount of freight being transported once it has left the port.

It also warns that ports in the North have an increasingly ageing workforce and are facing a skills gap that will need to be addressed if the sector is to thrive. IPPR North director Ed Cox said: "Britain was a trading nation long before the European Union was ever thought of, and that fact will not change despite the Brexit vote.

"We need a global North now like never before, so it is fantastic to see the North's port operators coming together to work so closely.

"The nature of any new European trade agreement will be vital, but the measures set out in our new Northern Ports Strategy provide a framework upon which any new deal must be based. …

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