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Transport for the North to become a statutory body

  • United Kingdom
  • Transport - Rail

28-11-2017

Background

As part of the Government’s commitment to the “Northern Powerhouse” agenda, legislation to turn Transport for the North (“TfN”) into a statutory sub-national transport body with legal powers and duties has been put before Parliament. Once approved by Parliament, the legislation is expected to be made into law by the end of the year or shortly afterwards depending on the legislative timeline.

What are the key implications of this change in status?

TfN, which was formed in 2015, is a partnership of 19 local authorities, business leaders and 11 local enterprise partnership areas from across the north of England. TfN will become the first sub-national statutory transport body on 1 April 2018. This means that the Government and other statutory bodies such as Network Rail and Highways England will be required to consider and respond to TfN’s recommendations in respect of infrastructure matters concerning the North.

Once a statutory body, TfN will have powers to:

  • produce a statutory strategy for northern England which the Government must formally consider when taking funding decisions;
  • fund projects such as smart ticketing;
  • work with local authorities to fund, promote and deliver road schemes;
  • be consulted on matters relating to rail franchises in the north of England; and
  • should its members agree, request additional powers.

The Department for Transport has also confirmed the availability to TfN of a £150 million Government fund, of which £18.5 million will be allocated for the purposes of funding TfN’s introduction of paperless, smart card season tickets for Northern, TransPennine Express and Merseyrail passengers by the end of 2018. The remaining £131.5 million of Government funding is to be available for proposals to extend smart ticketing across public transport in the north of England, giving passengers more flexibility and the ability to renew tickets online.

Rail North, which is an association of local authorities (including all the TfN members and Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent), will also formally become part of TfN and will work with the Government through that role to co-manage the Northern and TransPennine Express passenger rail franchises.

Conclusions

This is an exciting development consistent with the Government’s policy of driving economic growth in the north through the implementation of the Northern Powerhouse agenda including greater devolution. Improved transport connections are key to improved economic performance and the forthcoming powers and funding for TfN will give it an important role in delivering a better transport system and consequent greater prosperity to the benefit of the north and the nation generally.

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