Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Another Step Taken to a New Railway Network

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Another Step Taken to a New Railway Network

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com jonwalker121

ATRANSPORT authority to oversee the creation of a new rail network linking the North East, Yorkshire and the North West has been given the stamp of approval by the House of Lords.

The Lords approved plans to give official status to Transport for the North, which is run by council and business leaders.

While the body is already up and running, regulations approved by the House of Lords will give it legal status including a role advising the Transport Secretary.

Transport for the North is due to set out plans for a 'Northern Powerhouse Rail' network linked to the HS2 high speed line, as well as a new road tunnel beneath the Pennines, to be published in a major report early next year.

Members of the House of Lords welcomed the creation of Transport for the North but warned it required funding to be successful.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Shipley, a former leader of Newcastle City Council, said the North of England "has not had its fair share of investment in recent years".

He asked ministers: "Do the Government accept that there would be little point in Transport for the North doing a lot of work and raising expectations if the Government do not meet the financial consequences of that work?" Lord Beith, the former Lib Dem MP for Berwick, said it was important Transport for the North improved transport infrastructure in "the North of the North, not simply of the Hull-Manchester-Leeds-Liverpool corridor, important though that also is".

Labour peer Lord Beecham, also a former leader of Newcastle City Council, urged ministers to ensure airports in the North East were able to compete on a level playing field if the Scottish Government abolishes Air Passenger Duty, now renamed Air Departure Tax in Scotland.

He said: "It is thought that, given the opportunity, Scotland may well exercise its right to abandon that duty. That would have a very adverse effect, certainly on Newcastle Airport and, I suspect, on other airports across the northern region.

"I have yet to get an indication from the Government of what their attitude would be if Scotland exercised its apparent right to abandon the duty. …

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