Central Government have proposed plans to transform Transport for North – TfN – into the first statutory sub-national transport body with legal powers and the scope to dictate how money is spent on infrastructure and transport in the North.
The plan is backed with up to £260m of government funding that will drive economic growth, create jobs and boost skills, a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to support the Northern Powerhouse initiative.
From April 2018, TfN manage transport working through bodies like Transport for Greater Manchester (TFGM) / Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive (Nexus) in large urban areas.
The new powers will enable TfN to produce a statutory transport strategy which the government must formally consider when taking funding decisions; fund organisations engaged to deliver transport projects; work with local authorities to fund, promote and deliver road schemes; be consulted on rail franchises in the North and take forward smart ticketing to deliver faster easier travel.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “We are committed to the Northern Powerhouse, and to giving the great towns and cities of the North more say over transport investment through their umbrella body TfN.
“This government is investing the most cash for a generation in transport projects for the North. These new powers will give TfN far greater influence over national infrastructure decisions, as well the certainty they need to plan and drive forward projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and smart ticketing.”
Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry added: “We are investing a record £13 billion in transport in the North of England – more than any government in history.
“As part of this, TfN will be a game-changer, with powers to speak with one voice on northern transport projects and drive forward ambitious plans to improve transport connections and unlock economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse.”
Jonathan Walker, head of policy and campaigns, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “This is good news and something which we have been calling for. It should help Northern regions make a stronger case for much needed transport investment.
“For Transport for the North (TfN) to be a success it is essential that the Government listens to, and acts on, the organisation’s recommendations. TfN also needs to ensure it works with partners across all regions of the North to deliver balanced economic growth.”
Chris Richards, Head of Business Environment at EEF, said: “This is a major milestone in more effectively managing the transport networks on which manufacturers rely. For too long transport investment has been done on a tactical rather than strategic basis and due to the fragmented local government structure in England this has led to underinvestment in key arteries at the regional level.
“Sub-national transport bodies like Transport for Greater Manchester will provide that strategic look at how their disparate local economies can be stitched together to develop more robust regional powerhouses. The government should press ahead and ensure that all areas of England have a sub-national transport body to deliver on strategic regional infrastructure in a timely and more effective manner.”