Last month, Transport for the North (TfN) became England’s first ever sub-national transport body, opening with an inaugural board meeting in Liverpool. What will this mean for the future of the Northern Powerhouse?
The north of England has been given a “once in a generation opportunity” to influence its own transport future after TfN was granted extra powers to advise the government on its transport strategy, with chairman John Cridland hailing it a “watershed moment” for the region.
TfN will develop and implement its own strategic transport plan, as well as oversee franchised rail services alongside the Department for Transport and make decisions on capital grants.
Earlier this year in January, the department revealed its ambitious £70bn, 30-year plan that includes the proposed new Northern Powerhouse Rail which will increase connectivity between the north’s largest cities to enhance opportunities for the next generation of workers and investors. The plan is to implement the overhaul in stages with a mixture of new lines as well as upgraded existing lines, with links to HS2.
Transforming the north
Cridland commented: “The scale of opportunity and ambition cannot be understated. For the first time, recommendations on what and where investment is needed will be agreed by the people that live and work in the North, allowing us to speak with a united voice to central government. It’s a watershed moment for devolution and a once in a generation opportunity to deliver significant improvements in the North’s transport network.”
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The board meeting was attended by Transport Minister Jo Johnson, who believes that the new body demonstrates the government’s commitment to devolution in the north of England.
He added: “This government is investing over £13bn – more than any government in history – to transform northern transport, boost economic growth and deliver significantly improved journeys for passengers.”
Works include an upgrade of the line between Manchester and Sheffield, and on to Hull, as well as between there and Leeds and up to Newcastle. A new line would also be installed between Manchester and Leeds, as well as one connecting Manchester Airport directly to Liverpool.