4NW builds case for better transport links

The public-private lobbying body formerly known as the North West Regional Assembly is commissioning five sustainable transport papers designed at tackling economic problems within the region.

The projects cover inter-city connectivity, access to the Port of Liverpool, links to the West Cumbria energy coast, and access to work from deprived communities. The studies are yet to be formally commissioned and some are still pending funding clearance from the Department for Transport. The proposals follow work already carried out by transport consultant Atkins.

The largest of 4NW's five studies will be the city connectivity research, which focuses on Manchester, Liverpool and Central Lancashire as the drivers for the future growth of the regional economy. The study will assess current and future problems in the corridors between the three areas and passing through 'intermediate towns' such as Bolton, Runcorn, St Helens, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan.

The access to Port of Liverpool study will review the rising cost of the proposed major highway improvement scheduled for 2013/14. The potential for a future shift from road to rail will be examined.

The Department for Transport has asked for more information before agreeing to fund the Access to Energy Coast study. The challenge posed by the isolation of Furness and West Cumbria, alongside a decline of heavy industry, could be overcome by transport solutions, 4NW and the North West Development Agency assert.

The regional accessibility and regeneration research will look at the transport needs for access from deprived areas to the job markets of the main urban centres. In particular, the study will concentrate on inner city areas of Liverpool and Manchester, Blackpool, West Cumbria and Pennine Lancashire.

The behavioural change study is aimed at suggesting ways in which individuals can make 'smarter choices' towards more public transport use.

4NW's board is dominated by council leaders from across the North West but includes private sector partners such as Geoff Muirhead, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, Deborah Shackleton of housing association Riverside Group and Mike Damms, chief executive of the NW Chambers of Commerce.

The organisation helps inform Government decision-making in transport and housing among other policy areas and is co-writing the 2010 Regional Strategy with the North West Development Agency.

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