Local leaders from across Northern England have called for greater devolution of powers over the region’s railways, following last month’s announcement of reforms to how track and train services are managed.
Political and business leaders from across the region met this week during the latest meeting of Transport for the North’s (TfN) Board. In discussion over the creation of Great British Railways, a new body to oversee the network across mainland Britain, The Board said that northern leaders and Transport for the North – as the Government’s statutory partner on transport in the region – have an integral role in overseeing the railways and that this should be the basis of further devolution as the rail industry is restructured nationally.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that the North should also be making the case for direct oversight of rail services spanning the Pennines to ensure national attention is not focused elsewhere.
Department for Transport and Network Rail representatives present said that work to establish Great British Railways in shadow format in the next year will closely involve TfN and regional leaders.
TfN’s Acting Chief Executive, Tim Wood said:
“As the Government’s statutory partner on strategic transport for the North, not only are we committed to making the Williams-Shapps plan work, we are uniquely placed to make this happen quickly – to the benefit of our residents and businesses.
“The national approach must not be a missed opportunity for further devolution, giving the North’s leaders greater oversight of services and infrastructure investment. We look forward to working closely with Government to ensure local and regional leaders are at the core of reform of our railways.”