Seem to be developping regular transport slots in my diary at the moment. Last week I was speaking at a conference in London on transport and sustainability. Next week I'm speaking at a conference here in Manchester when I will be talking largely about transport investment needs in Greater Manchester and across the north.
This afternoon I'm interviewed by renowned actor Richard Wilson for a Channel 4 documentary looking at railways and whether or not we have had enough investment over the past decade in the North. The short answer is of course no. We have benefitted significantly from investment in the West Coast mainline which means we do now have a relatively regular and reliable service to London, but at times that service is already running out of capacity. We have had some local investment, particularly in Metrolink, but have had to fight ferociously for every penny of central government money that's supported that investment. We have at last got the Manchester ( now Northern Hub ) issues on the national agenda but will have to continue to press hard to get Network Rail's excellent plans for relieving congestion in the rail network around Manchester delivered, something that would have major transport and economic benefits for the whole of the North of England. Looking at immediate needs, so far we have failed miserably to get the extra carriages we need to relieve congestion on Greater Manchester commuter rail services, and looking further into the future, we still have to nail down an absolute committment to High Speed Rail coming to Manchester ( rather than ending in a field somewhere in Staffordshire ). It's a big agenda and one of vital importance to the city.