Osborne to Set Out U.K. Northern Transport Strategy This Week

The U.K. government will this week set out its transport strategy for the north of England as part of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s plans to build a “northern powerhouse.”

The plans, set out in a joint report by Transport for the North -- a grouping of major northern cities -- and the government, will include developing contactless travel cards for northern England like the Oyster cards used in London, new investment in roads and the electrification of the Selby-to-Hull rail line, according to a Treasury briefing note.

“We’re investing in northern transport, investing also in science, in industry and in manufacturing in the north of England,” Osborne told BBC Television’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday. “Then we’ll have a rival to London” because “we need as a country to have more strings to our bow. We can’t just rely on the strength of London.”

As he prepares to present his final budget on Wednesday, Osborne is seeking to balance his Conservative Party’s reputation for fiscal prudence while countering opposition Labour Party accusations that his policies only favor the wealthiest. While he said on Sunday the budget would have “no giveaways,” his backing of future development in the north may win his party votes in a traditional Labour stronghold, with little immediate cost to the public purse.

‘National Recovery’

“Everything we do in this budget has to be paid for,” Osborne, who represents a district near Manchester in Parliament, told the Marr program. “This budget is all about securing a truly national recovery, from building a northern powerhouse, connecting up other regions of our country, committing to long-term plans that support science and high-speed transport, making sure that all parts of our country feel the benefits of the economic recovery.”

The report will set out investment in roads in the north to improve connections to Leeds along the M62 and M1 motorways, potentially creating 13,500 jobs, with development work starting in the next six months. It will also back future plans for high-speed rail connections across the north, reducing journey times between major cities.

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