Developments on smart and contact-less card travel for the north of England, are being led by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) its members were told at a meeting today.
With the largest smartcard scheme outside London in place, West Yorkshire is steering this work on behalf of Transport for the North. Representing Northern city region authorities, Government and the national transport agencies, Transport for the North is committed to building the Northern Powerhouse through transport improvements, driven by a thriving private sector and innovative local government.
WYCA has led collaborative work to develop a programme for Integrated and Smart Travel across the north of England. Developed in partnership with teams from the north’s other, the Department for Transport, the Smart Cities Partnership and the South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) programme would mean people being able to travel throughout and between city regions using one smart ticketing system. Initial uses could be the introduction of smartcards similar to West Yorkshire’s MCards for rail season tickets. It could also mean carnet tickets such as those in use at WYCA’s Elland Road park and Ride which enable people to make savings by buying 10 tickets up front for the price of nine.
Looking ahead, the WYCA team is also investigating the potential use of contactless bank cards and other emerging technologies such as ApplePay. This has involved Transport for the North participating in work with UK Contactless Cards association to establish the principles for contactless bank card ticketing outside London.
Other work being undertaken through Transport for the North includes the investigation of whether HS2 could be adapted to provide an east-west link through a new line or links to upgraded existing lines. Opportunities to use HS2 to transform connections between Leeds and Sheffield city centres are also being explored.
Transport for the North is also investigating better road links that would make possible 60mph average travel speeds between the north’s core cities that would build on the current roll out of the M62 managed motorway scheme. This could include a shared route with a new rail link.
This work on connectivity also entails WYCA identifying how to ensure the benefits of improved journey times between city regions are felt in smaller centres such as Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield in terms of reliable, shorter journey times.
At today’s meeting, WYCA members also agreed to support the case for hosting Transport for the North at the Combined Authority’s Leeds headquarters. Representing the north of England’s 29 transport authorities Rail North has been shaping the future of the region’s rail services in partnership with the Department for Transport (DfT). Rail North is moving into WYCA’s Leeds HQ in October. With it looking likely to become
Transport for the North’s rail franchising arm, WYCA councillors agreed having both organisations in one location would strengthen their impact.
Cllr Peter Box, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair, said: “We have been clear from the outset, good transport links, both across West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region and also between our towns and cities across the north are the basis for building a northern powerhouse. They connect people with opportunities.
“Through Transport for the North, we are making the case for these links and the investment the government will need to commit if it plans to make that northern powerhouse a reality. And one of the first commitments is to ‘un-pausing trans-Pennine rail electrification and progressing that projects and other key rail links such as the Calder Valley and Leeds, Harrogate, York lines.”
Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “Just this week we have celebrated the re-opening of the refurbished Wakefield Kirkgate station and in the coming weeks and months we will see the completion of other major Combined Authority & projects with new rail stations at Apperley Bridge, Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor and the opening of Leeds Station southern entrance.
“Transport for the North, wants to see 30 minute journey time between Leeds and Manchester and Leeds and Sheffield, but to maximise the impacts of these and future initiatives we also need to ensure similar journey times between our smaller centres to ensure that the benefits, in terms of business growth, new and better jobs and housing, are felt right across West Yorkshire and the City Region.”
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP and Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee said: “Connectivity is the glue that binds our plans for transformational economic growth and we need to make sure investment is secured to develop both inter-city and intra-region links if we are to feel the effects across the North.
“I am delighted to be part of this Transport for the North initiative to move our transport networks into the twenty-first century and start to build a genuine northern powerhouse reinforced by an effective, smart and efficient transport network.”