Manchester United

The Economist has published an article on the Northern Hub, in Manchester. This is how it starts.

FOR £33 billion and a 20-year wait, Britain is to get a high-speed rail line connecting London to the north of England. For £32 billion-odd less than that sum, it gets the Northern Hub. Far less controversial or glamorous — the funding process was a bit like a church-roof appeal at first, says Chris Fletcher of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce — the project is a terrific example of the kind of infrastructure that Britain badly needs to build…

It is vital for the upgraded regional network to dovetail with the high-speed rail line, as the latter’s benefits are only fully realised if passengers can be efficiently delivered to its stations from local areas.

The Northern Hub may be a case study in how infrastructure spending can boost an economy. A 2006 study of Britain’s transport system by Sir Rod Eddington, a former head of British Airways, advised the government to prioritise congested urban areas, key inter-urban corridors and international gateways. The Northern Hub tackles all three.

Exactly the same principles apply to rail improvements in the south, where similarly small investments can bring big benefits. The area to the west of Heathrow is a key inter-urban corridor and an international gateway. So that the country can maximise the benefit from investments in HS2 and Crossrail, it is vital that as many people are connected to them as possible. This is what the Windsor Link Railway does for millions of people in the south and south-west.