Transport for the North (TfN) will be supported by £30 million in funding over three years, and will have more responsibility for setting out policy and investments.
In the last parliament, the government had committed to build a ‘Northern Powerhouse’, based on the theory that the individual cities and towns of the north could pool their strengths to be stronger than the sum of their parts. Yesterday’s Budget acknowledged that cities require high-quality transport if they are to be successful, as well as the powers to deliver a fully integrated public transport system that serves the needs of their residents and businesses.
The government is launching a new transport devolution package for the North to take the Northern Powerhouse to the next stage "and create a single northern economy that is genuinely stronger than the sum of its parts".
It is now committing to:
devolving far reaching powers over transport to the North’s mayor-led city regions to deliver fully integrated public transport systems, supported by smart and integrated ticketing technology;
establishing TfN as a statutory body, underpinned by £30 million of additional funding over three years to support TfN’s running costs and enable it to advance its work programme;
appointing an interim chief executive and executive team for TfN by autumn 2015 to accelerate TfN’s work programme, and appointing a Chair by the end of the 2015.
The policy paper said that the government is improving road connectivity in the North by upgrading the A628 and dualling the A61, and by upgrading the final stretch of the M1/A1 route between Newcastle and London to motorway. The government will look into the case for renaming the A1(M) north of Leeds as the M1. The A1 will be dualled north of Newcastle as far as Ellingham, and access to the Port of Immingham will be improved with upgrades to the A160/A180.
The creation of Transport for the North (TfN) had been announced in October 2014. It will draw up a comprehensive Northern Transport Strategy. TfN will shortly publish an interim report, committing to build on the concept of HS3 to develop a network of high-quality rail connections across the north and bring the benefits of HS2 to the north sooner than planned.
Chris Selway, head of CPO at BNP Paribas Real Estate, said: “Connecting HS2 to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ not only has the potential to release capacity on the existing rail network, but there is plenty of evidence to show that investment in rail also brings investment in station hinterlands and in local communities as well.
“However, all investment in infrastructure needs compulsory purchase powers to make it happen, and I would urge the Government to move quickly to make the system clearer, faster and fairer for all parties. The compensation packages associated with recent schemes such as Crossrail and HS2 have been woefully inadequate.”