Good transport creates prosperity. Adam Smith taught that without transport, “every farmer must be butcher, baker and brewer”. But transport allows the farmer to concentrate on farming, move produce to market and buy bread from the expert bakers in town.
Adam Smith was writing as a witness to the industrial revolution that created the original Northern Powerhouse. Fifteen years earlier, Britain’s first canal had opened between Worsley and Manchester, almost immediately cutting the price of coal by half. It was the moment that made the North of England the workshop of the world for the next 200 years.It lasted well into the twentieth century, but eventually investment in northern transport declined and the North declined with it.
By 2010 no new railway had been built north of Birmingham for over 100 years. And the World Economic Forum ranked the quality of our roads below some third world countries. Heavy industry moved overseas. For thirteen years of Labour Government the future was assumed to lie in the new service-based economy of the South East.
READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn and Labour will put High Speed Rail in ‘jeopardy’by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.