Revitalising Greater Manchester: Transport Investment Sparks Productivity Surge

Greater Manchester is experiencing a remarkable renaissance, with its productivity growth surpassing that of comparable Northern cities and steadily narrowing the gap with London. The Executive Magazine analyses data from Metro Dynamics and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. Featuring Lord Jim O'Neill, Mike Emmerich
Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Editor In Chief at The Executive Magazine

Greater Manchester’s Productivity Surges, Closing Gap with London: Metro Dynamics Analysis Reveals Transformative Impact of Transport Investment

The economic consultancy Metro Dynamics, in collaboration with the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), has unveiled promising findings indicating the beginning of a productivity resurgence in Greater Manchester. The analysis shows that the city region’s productivity growth is surpassing that of comparable Northern cities, while simultaneously closing the gap with London.

Contrary to popular belief, this economic success is not confined to the city centre alone. Evidence suggests that income and productivity growth are being experienced across Greater Manchester as a result of investment in intracity transport connectivity. These findings support the argument that towns are not hindered, but rather aided, by their links to nearby cities.

One transformative element in Greater Manchester’s economic fortunes over the past three decades has been the Metrolink tram network, inaugurated by the late Queen in 1992. The network has not only driven up wages and productivity but has also led to a fourfold increase in house prices within half a mile of Bury’s tram stop between 1995 and 2021.

However, certain areas in the north-western part of the city region, such as Wigan and Leigh, which are not connected to the tram network, have not experienced the same level of productivity and income growth. This disparity raises questions about how the upcoming implementation of the Bee Network—Greater Manchester’s vision for an integrated transport system—could potentially benefit these areas.

Devolution is also considered a crucial factor in supporting the city’s economic transformation. In 2014, Greater Manchester became the first English city region outside London to secure a devolution settlement, marking an important milestone in local leadership and decision-making.

Lord Jim O’Neill, Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, highlights the significance of the data, affirming that the Northern Powerhouse model, focused on agglomeration and empowered local leadership, is proving effective. Lord O’Neill emphasises the need to replicate Greater Manchester’s success across the North and scale it to address the overall productivity challenge faced by the region:

“The recent productivity growth across Manchester, and Greater Manchester even more so, means that the gap with London is now starting to close.

“We’re now seeing signs that addressing transport, with a consistent focus on securing agglomeration benefits, is starting to bear fruit.

“Building on and replicating Greater Manchester’s success across the North, and scaling it to create an effective pan-northern labour market, is key to solving our overall productivity challenge.”

Mike Emmerich, Founding Director of Metro Dynamics, adds further insights, dispelling the notion that Manchester’s success is limited to the city center. He underscores the more even spread of productivity growth across the entire city region, particularly in areas that have received transport investments.

“Some have assumed that Manchester’s success has been limited to the city but this is evidence that productivity growth has been spread much more evenly across most of the whole city region, specifically those areas which have received investment in transport.

“Over the past three decades, Greater Manchester has taken a consistent and common economic and investment strategy including on transport, and we’re now seeing the green shoots of a productivity resurgence as a result.

“It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that many other city regions across the North and England more widely have decided to follow the same course.”

The consistent and comprehensive economic and investment strategy, including a focus on transport, has laid the foundation for the green shoots of a productivity resurgence in Greater Manchester.

As other city regions in the North and throughout England observe these positive outcomes, they are increasingly adopting similar strategies to drive their own economic growth.

Continue reading

vote for your favourite watch brand

Select your favourite watch brand from the list below, and discover the results in the next digital edition of the magazine