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Transport Connectivity: North of England

Volume 742: debated on Thursday 14 December 2023

9. What steps he is taking to increase transport connectivity between cities in the north of England. (900656)

Aside from the £1 billion investment in Network North, my hon. Friend will be aware that the single biggest connectivity project in his community is the Northumberland line, a groundbreaking railway line that will connect Blyth and the surrounding cities to Newcastle.

I am delighted consultation has now taken place regarding a relief road for Blyth, which is badly needed. As a result of the proposed plans, which could see the closure of an existing road and the rerouting of residents along a new road, many residents of Cramlington could see their journey times increase. Keeping the existing road open would address that, as well as save money. Will my hon. Friend agree to look at that again and see whether it could be achieved?

I am very happy to meet my hon. Friend and Northumberland County Council, post the consultation.

Ten years ago, David Higgins, the then chair of HS2, said that connectivity between Sheffield and Manchester was worse than between any other major cities in Europe. Since then, Sheffield’s connection with Manchester airport has been scrapped. We had a review of a tunnel under the Pennines. That tunnel got shorter and shorter until it finally disappeared altogether. Can the Minister say in what way—if any, because I do not think there have been any—transport links between Sheffield and Manchester have improved while this Government have been in power?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, a substantial amount of electrification is taking place. He will also be aware of the city regional sustainable settlement, which will provide significant investment in the north.