Steve Lupton, Marion McNaughton and Martin Pearmain share their views on the rail projectI will try to explain how economic geography works to Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram (Letters, 18 April), and anyone else who would like to know. In relatively small countries, like the UK, economic and other activity becomes attracted to a central city, like London. Under free enterprise conditions, which recent governments purport to be in favour of, it grows and grows, becoming the centre of culture and government as well as business and commerce.

As time passes, the central city develops problems such as high land and labour costs, traffic congestion and pollution. At the same time, new forms of communication make it less necessary for business and other leaders to be in close geographical contact with each other. Eventually, decisions are made to relocate all sorts of economic activities to cheaper, less polluted places, such as Manchester and Liverpool.

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