ACKLING the poor east to west connectivity that blights the North of England will be one of the first tasks of the Chancellor's new National Infrastructure Commission, George Osborne announced in York today.
The Chancellor chose the National Railway Museum to launch the commission and call for an end to short term thinking on England's road, rail and energy, as local politicians called for funding for York's own infrastructure challenges.
Surrounded by historic engines like the Mallard and the KF7, the Chancellor said: "All of these things were the engineering wonders of their day. They come from a time when we planned for the long term.
Shoddy infrastructure means it takes as long to travel from York to London as it does from York to Liverpool - a journey of half the distance.
Tackling that will be one of the new body's first tasks, they said, and it is expected to report before the budget next spring.
Lord Adonis, the former Labour peer who gave up his party's whip to chair the new commission, joked that "Transpennine Express" was the biggest misnomer in the English language, and said that the level of commuting between Leeds and Manchester was 40 percent lower than it should be - something that had serious consequences for the economies at both ends.
"After HS2, it will be quicker to go from Birmingham to London than to travel the 43 transpennine miles from Manchester to Leeds," he added.North east England was the birthplace of the railways, but now seriously needs improved connectivity to compete, he added.
At the beginning of the event, Mr Osborne spoke of London's CrossRail as a success story of recent infrastructure, but later pledged "major investment" in the North and said the North would not be let behind while increasing amounts of investment goes into the South.
Sadie Morgan, the leading architect who is heading the HS2 design panel, said the value of good design in new infrastructure should not be underestimated. She added: "This is not just about creating effective infrastructure but places that we truly deserve."
"We hope that these vital local and regional infrastructure projects will receive the funding they need, and I believe the Chancellor’s statement today was very encouraging.""There are a number of key infrastructure issues in York that desperately require investment, from the northern ring road, to regional rail electrification, and the York Central teardrop site - which holds the key to the city’s future prosperity.
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