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Railway boost ‘excellent news for North West business’

Senior business leaders from across the region have welcomed a £1 billion investment in the North West’s railway network.

It was announced yesterday (9 December) that Arriva had been awarded the Northern rail franchise following a Department for Transport consultation process.

Arriva’s winning bid was based on plans to improve and transform rail travel across the North of England through a massive £1 billion investment scheme.

Clive Drinkwater, North West regional director of UK Trade and Investment, says: “The announcement is excellent news for businesses across the North West. In order for our region to achieve its potential we need to pool our resources, share expertise and work more closely with other businesses in our region, as well as those across the North as a whole.

“Transport links can be a significant obstacle in allowing companies to exchange skills and knowledge with ease – the Northern Rail franchise will go a long way in helping to remove that barrier, allowing SMEs to speak to each other before, with UK Trade & Investment’s help, speaking to the rest of the world.”

Mark Canning, director of Canning O’Neill, saw the announcement as good news for combating Manchester’s traffic problems, adding : “Any improvement to the regional rail network serving Manchester is welcome and is essential if drivers are going to prized out of their cars.

“If the current traffic congestion – primarily as a result of road works and sink holes – is a sign of times ahead, a more efficient and enhanced rail network is an essential component of Manchester’s future growth. And whilst the powers that be are at it, a decent single operator integrated bus service is also what the city badly needs.

“If this happens Manchester becomes an even more credible and attractive option for business compared to London and the South East.”

Mark Rawstron, regional senior director at Bilfinger GVA, praised the high level of investment in the scheme, saying : “Investment in connectivity is a key element and driver of economic growth. Infrastructure spending in the North has been at comparative low levels so this announcement is clearly welcome.

“However, ambitious words need to be backed up by delivery. Having travelled from Leeds to Manchester this very morning, which took more than an hour, in out dated, draughty and dirty rolling stock – improvements cannot come soon enough!”