Scotland and the north of England have signed an agreement to work closer together to improve cross-border transport connections and boost the economies of both territories.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed to “enable a shared approach to achieving a transport network which will help realise the economic ambitions of Scotland and the Northern Powerhouse.”
Infrastructure secretary Keith Brown led a delegation of political, civic and transport chiefs to Newcastle upon Tyne to sign the MoU.
The document gives Scotland a voice in the Northern Transport Strategy being designed by the Transport for the North Partnership to inform Westminster’s “Northern Powerhouse” plans.
The MoU outlines a joint ambition to “radically enhance transport connectivity within and between the North of England and Scotland.”
Brown signed the MoU at a conference called “Improving Transport connectivity for vibrant economies: An exchange platform for ideas and co-operation between Scotland and the north of England.”
The event was organized by Transport Scotland in association with Transport for the North, the Scottish Cities Alliance and Newcastle City Council.
“The Scottish Government believes that investment in Scotland’s transport is a key enabler for delivering sustainable growth by increasing competitiveness, supporting employment and opportunity,” said Brown.
“This commitment to investment in infrastructure can be seen in the great number of major transport projects we have delivered and are delivering — the Queensferry Crossing, the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the Borders Railway.
“Alongside these projects, extending a high speed rail link to Scotland will ensure that businesses in Scotland and the north of England are able to compete and grow, as well as boosting vital supply chain economies.
“We recognise the strong connection we have with our neighbours in the north of England and that there are important flows of labour and goods across the border.
“Investment on one side of that border can affect economic outcomes on the other, and we can maximise the return on investment by sharing views, aspirations and plans.
“I look forward to this Memorandum of Understanding contributing to a cross-border transport network that will benefit us all.”
Councillor Nick Forbes, Transport for the North board member, said: “In the North of England we are determined to take charge of our own transport needs and ensure investment is directed to create more and better jobs.
“Transport for the North gives for the first time our businesses and communities a say in how our roads, railways and other transport links are developed for the future.
“Better connections to Scotland as well as between our major cities in the north will be vital in transforming our economies.
“From offshore engineering to tourism, the North of England and Scotland are joined together in a way that brings great opportunities for growth.
“This Memorandum of Understanding shows how we will both do all we can to ensure the travelling public and businesses see the benefits of co-operation for years to come.”
John Cridland, Transport for the North chair, said: “Our vision is all about transforming the north’s transport connectivity to create a unified, single economy.
“It’s an ambitious one, and strong collaboration with colleagues across both borders in Scotland and Wales will be a key element to achieving it.
“With MoUs now in place with both governments, today marks a significant step forward in our wider engagement plans and we look forward to driving forward a fruitful relationship for everyone involved.”