Transport for the North and the Department for Transport have published their first annual spring report for the Northern Transport Strategy.
The report looks at the emerging options for the Northern Powerhouse rail network linking the north’s major city regions, sets out an implementation plan to deliver simplified fares, integrated ticketing and improved online passenger information across all the north’s public transport and examines the findings from the ongoing roads strategic studies in the north.
It also summarises the initial findings of the Northern Powerhouse independent economic review, commissioned by TfN, and sets out TfN’s aim to become the first statutory sub-national transport body to be established under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016.
Cllr Peter Box, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “We welcome this report and the rapid progress made by colleagues from within Leeds City region and across the north. Transport plays a major role in the economic prosperity of the north, so I’m pleased that progress has been made in identifying projects to improve connectivity across the north of England. This includes the rollout of a pan-north travel smartcard, similar to the successful MCard smartcard now in use across West Yorkshire.
“But what we really need to see now is a commitment from Government to the sustained effort and focus that will make these projects a reality.”
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “While we welcome this report and the work of Transport for the North so far, it’s imperative that major government investment in transport infrastructure in Yorkshire is delivered as soon as possible. Reducing journey times and simplifying the travel experience through innovations like smart ticketing is essential to the future economic development of the region. However the fact remains that far more government money is spent on transport infrastructure in London and the south east compared to Yorkshire. This has to be addressed if the north is to really fulfil its true economic potential.”
The Northern Transport Strategy includes TfN’s emerging views of the options for Northern Powerhouse Rail, a proposed high quality rail network to better connect the great cities of the north, details progress on major government investment in transport across road and rail and also outlines progress on roads studies including east-west trans-Pennine connections – one of the biggest challenges in the north.
The report sets out plans for transformative projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and Smart North – a system to help passengers switch easily between buses, trains and trams across the region while ensuring value for money. It also updates on some of the key improvements made over the last year across the region, with billions of pounds already guaranteed across rail, road and smart ticketing to deliver better journeys for passengers and support economic growth across the region.
John Cridland, Chair of Transport for the Northsaid: "I’m delighted with the progress of our ambitious plans to transform infrastructure in the north of England. Our vision to rebalance the economy will greatly benefit residents of the north and the United Kingdom as a whole. Looking to the future we’ll build on our research, which is underpinned by the first Independent Economic Review for the North, to devise a prioritised investment programme."
TfN now represents all Local Enterprise Partnerships, Combined Authorities and Local Transport Authorities in the north, and with £50 million confirmed funding over this Parliament, TfN is continuing to grow its capability and capacity towards statutory status by early 2017.
Cllr Box concluded: “We also want to see Transport for the
North taking a long hard look at the road network in the north, in the
same way it has done for rail. We suspect that longer term solutions
need to be found to the congestion on the M62 and M1, if they are not to
hold back economic growth.
“This is particularly important for Leeds
City Region - with a £60bn economy and a population of 2.8 million,
Leeds City Region’s is the largest regional economy outside London,
making it central to the success of the government’s Northern Powerhouse
“We need Government to prove its
commitment to the Northern Powerhouse and deliver infrastructure
projects that has been previously put to the top of the priority list -
such as the upgrade of the trans-Pennine rail route and electrification
of other routes such as the Calder Valley line through Bradford and
Halifax and the line to Harrogate and York.”
The Yorkshire Post reports that business groups are calling for evidence in the Budget that the Government is moving from commissioning studies to putting projects into action. KPMG’s northern chairman Chris Hearld, who is part of the Business North group, said none of the projects in the TfN report were scheduled to happen in the near future and he would “love to see something happen to bring that timetable forward.”
Read the Yorkshire Post story (opens in new window).
Download Transport for the North's Spring 2016 report (opens in new window).