A shortlist of transport priorities that will ignite regional economic growth has been drawn up by the North East's two leading business membership organisations.
The North East Chamber of Commerce and CBI worked with the wealth of businesses in their memberships to devise the list of projects that businesses feel would be most likely to stimulate growth in the North East economy.
It is the first time that the region's business community has collaborated in this way to identify such a list of priorities.
Both organisations believe that addressing these key transport issues as strategic priorities will help to ensure transport policy plays its full part in unlocking the undoubted potential of the North East economy.
NECC Chief Executive, James Ramsbotham, said:
"The "North East Business Transport Priorities" document represents a collective view from a broad spectrum of businesses on a single list of transport priorities for the region, setting out the most important issues to be addressed to help our economy grow.
"The North East is a world class business location with world class firms. As a trading region with the best export record in the country, it is critical that the North East continues to develop its connections to key markets in the UK and overseas.
"These projects must be delivered swiftly. They will become key lobbying platforms, and we will publish progress reports to ensure pledges are fulfilled.
"We recognise that many agencies have a crucial role to play in delivering these priorities, including the Department of Transport, local authorities and executive agencies. Both CBI and NECC are keen to support action where we are able."
Heidi Mottram, Regional Chair of CBI North East, said:
"We've set out the most important improvements business believes are needed to road, rail, air and sea infrastructure to build on the North East export success and ensure future growth.
"The North East is a national and global exporter and these priority actions will enable the development of connections to key regional, national and world markets.
"It's an excellent example of what can be achieved when everyone pulls together and works at the hub of decision making. The CBI, NECC, transport experts of both Local Enterprise Partnerships and all main transport organisations worked together on these priorities to ensure clarity and consensus of these crucial transport targets."
Airports and Ports
• Policy changes to support our top priority of a daily flight to the USA;
• Reform to policies on route development funding and Air Passenger Duty;
• Retain and enhance access to Heathrow for which a third runway is vital;
• Prioritise links to air, rail and sea hubs offering access to international markets.
• Connectivity with the UK motorway network via the A1.
• Improved capacity on A1 Western Bypass.
• Improvements to the A19 junctions immediately either side of the Tyne Tunnel.
• Improvements to the A19 junctions with the A689 and A174
• Increased speed limits to 60mph for HGV's on A1 through Northumberland.
• North East access to High Speed Rail network at the earliest opportunity.
• A high quality electrified Trans-Pennine link to Middlesbrough and Teesport.
• Teesport and Port of Tyne fully to be connected to W10 network
• Increase rail freight capacity to/from ports
It is hoped that several of the priorities could be actioned quickly after being highlighted in both the Transport Secretary's announcement of 'pinch-point' schemes and the Autumn Statement in December 2012.
James Barker, Managing Director of Barker and Stonehouse and NECC Tees Valley Committee member, said:
"The North East is a great place to live, work and visit, and it is time our transport infrastructure was improved to a level that would help businesses meet our aspirations.
"Companies like ours depend enormously on good regional connectivity and we are prolific users of the ports, airports and road network. A small amount of investment to improve these transport networks would have a major impact and help the region deliver more for UK Plc and bolster our already impressive export performance."
Michael Spriggs, Managing Director of UK Land Estates and member of the CBI North East Regional Council, said:
"We naturally believe that this region is a fantastic place to do business and offers many advantages over alternative locations elsewhere in the UK. However, improvements to the transport infrastructure are essential if the North East is to continue to attract inward investment and to allow its indigenous businesses to grow and prosper.
"Projects such as the new Tyne Tunnel have demonstrated the transformative impact that such schemes can have but we need further investment to make our infrastructure fit for purpose in the 21st Century."