The North East's most pressing transport issues will be debated next month as the region’s top transport and business leaders gather to voice their opinion on road, rail, sea and shipping links.
Convening at County Durham’s Ramside Hall for The Journal and the Evening Gazette’s Transport Links Breakfast in association with East Coast, the leaders will debate the North East transport landscape, including challenges such as HS2, airport capacity and development of our road infrastructure.
Leading the debate is head of sales for East Coast Martin Turner, who has more than 17 years’ experience in the railway industry. Having spent the last six years in his current role, Martin is responsible for business-to-business sales, developing revenue and managing relationships with key business travel agents and corporate customers.
Martin started his career in grocery retail and FMCG sales before moving to the rail industry, and has since become an expert in business travel through rail.
He said: “Business travel will have a major role in helping to drive the economic recovery in the UK.
“Increasingly companies are seeing business travel as an investment, and in order to grow revenue, meet new customers and win new contracts they need to travel to seize new opportunities.
“Rail provides a fast, frequent, affordable and environmentally friendly way to do this. In addition to this, the fact that train companies are offering facilities which make business travel so productive, both on board and in lounges, means that companies are choosing rail more and more for their business travel needs.”
Martin will be joined by a host of politicians, business and transport leaders, including Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Berwick-upon-Tweed and director of the Dual the A1 Campaign Group; Rachel Turnbull, chief executive office of TT2 Limited (Tyne Tunnels); Steven Catchpole, managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited, Local Enterprise Partnership; and Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle International Airport.
Recently, the Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities, a body made up of councils including Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland, commissioned an eight-month study which found that economies linked by the East Coast Main Line are worth well over £300bn each year to the UK.
The report outlined significant potential for growth worth £5bn if rail connections were improved along the whole route. Furthermore, the predicted economic benefits increase to £9bn if the East Coast Main Line is improved in addition to the eastern arm of High Speed 2 (HS2) being built, allowing high-speed trains to connect Leeds, York, the North East and Scotland to Birmingham and London.
The North East is an important destination for East Coast, with Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations on the route.
The rail operators have been closely involved in the £8.6m project to redevelop Newcastle Central Station, which was completed earlier this year.
The project has turned the station into an impressive new gateway to the city and the wider North East.
Passengers are benefiting from a new travel centre, better toilet facilities and increased cycle storage space, while the station layout has been simplified and clearer signage introduced.
The works also complement the ongoing project led by Newcastle City Council and NE1 to improve access to this area of the city centre.
The breakfast debate will be chaired by Graham Robb, owner of Darlington-based Recognition Marketing and PR, who is also the new chairman of the Institute of Directors in the North East, having served on its board for several years. Graham is also on the board of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and a founding member of the Yorkshire and North East Shadow MPC.