Major transport review recommends big improvements for ITV Border region

The Prime Minister has pledged to create a strategic transport network across the UK following a major review.

Sir Peter Hendy was asked to undertake the Union Connectivity Review by the Government in a bid to improve transport and to shore up the Union.

One of the key recommendations of the report is to create a UKNet, which would map out the strategic locations across the country and plot how best to link them together, while also providing extra funding for underperforming areas of the network. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to set this up "right away".

What the Union Connectivity Review suggests for the ITV Border region. Credit: ITV Border

In our region, the proposals include upgrades to the West Coast Main Line, with the aim of increasing capacity and cutting journey times between Scotland and London, the Midlands and North West of England.

Another recommendation is for the UK and Scottish Governments to work together on developing an assessment of the East Coast road and rail transport corridor from the North East of England to southern Scotland, including improvements on the East Coast Main Line and the A1.

The report also proposes upgrading the A75 road, which connects Scotland with Northern Ireland and runs from Gretna to the port of Cairnryan.

The Prime Minister added: "Determined to get to work right away, we will set up a strategic UK-wide transport network that can better serve the whole country with stronger sea, rail and road links - not only bringing us closer together, but boosting jobs, prosperity and opportunity."

Calls were also made for improving the A55, M53 and M56 and the South Wales Corridor in Wales, along with the North Wales Coast Main Line and rail links to the Midlands from Cardiff.

"My recommendations provide comprehensive, achievable and clear plans forward to better connect the whole of the United Kingdom, leading to more growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion," Sir Peter said.

One of the things missing from the UK Government announcements is the proposed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland - although it is understood the idea will not go ahead.

In recent years, the Prime Minister along with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack have talked up a bridge or tunnel between Larne and Cairnryan to link the two islands - an idea which was heavily derided in Scotland and elsewhere and had a possible price tag of £33bn.

Today a feasibility study said the bridge “would be impossible to justify” as “the benefits could not possibly outweigh the costs”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Transport is key to binding the family of nations that is the United Kingdom closer together, so that prosperity can be shared more evenly.

"It is not good enough that certain areas of the UK thrive while others fall behind.

"We must realise our full national potential, and that means mobilising the resources and skills of all parts of this country.

"I am indebted to Sir Peter for his work. We will consider his recommendations carefully, engage closely with the devolved administrations, and work collegiately to ensure these proposals strengthen the ties that bind us, now and for the future."

Mr Jack also welcomed the report and urged the Scottish Government to work with its Westminster counterpart on the plans.

  • Nicola Sturgeon MSP an Alister Jack MP comment on the proposals.