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Mike's intervention on importance of rail connectivity to growth and success at Manchester Airport and the North

Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) on securing this debate.

In the short time available to me, I will just refer quickly to the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst), who made a premier league analogy. Well, if someone already has Manchester airport, they already feel like they are in the premier league, and it is great that we will invest £1 billion in new infrastructure, including new terminals, to welcome Pep Guardiola to the city as the new Manchester City manager.

With 23 million passengers a year, which will rise to 43 million a year by 2025, Manchester airport is a serious world international airport. It has the capacity, with the two runways, to go to 55 million passengers a year. A total of 100,000 tonnes of goods are exported out of Manchester airport and it generates 21,000 jobs. There was a jobs fair just last week, with 4,000 new jobs coming on stream; 7,000 people applied, so it was massively oversubscribed.

It was great to welcome President Xi Jinping and the Prime Minister to Manchester airport just a few weeks ago to announce the development of Airport City, an £800 million investment in new, high-tech sectors both south and north of the city. The joke around Manchester was that it was awful to see the Prime Minister kowtowing to the leadership of a one-party state, but there you go—welcome to Manchester.

However, the point that I will address today is rail connectivity, the importance of which was pointed out by the hon. Member for Solihull (Julian Knight), who also talked about current capacity. There was a Mancunian entrepreneur and industrialist called Daniel Adamson. In 1860, he saw the north developing a continuous economic region—a powerhouse, as he described it—from the banks of the Mersey estuary to the banks of the Humber, to create a single economic market. In 1886,he then decided to build the Manchester Ship canal. He got halfway there, but there is now an opportunity—in the years ahead of us—to create that single market.

Current rail access to Manchester airport means that the population within a two-hour catchment of it using public transport stands at around 8 million. Currently, the only city that can be reached in that time period is Manchester. However, with the right rail improvements things would improve. Transport for the North, which was funded by the Chancellor in the last autumn statement, is considering three options at the moment. We estimate that if we put in the right transport links from east to west we would create a catchment area for the airport of 18 million people, bringing in Liverpool city region, Sheffield, Liverpool itself and Leeds, with all of them being within around 30 minutes of Manchester and Manchester airport. It would widen the airport’s catchment area massively.

High Speed 2 will bring journey times to Manchester down from the current time of 2 hours 24 minutes to 59 minutes. We can connect our airports and our cities more effectively if we have the right vision, guts and gravitas.

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