Fares, rail policy and DfT news

31.01.19

TfN unveils £70bn transport masterplan for the north

Transport for the North (TfN) has launched its £70bn blueprints to overhaul northern transport infrastructure over the next 30 years, connecting the major cities and moving forward with its flagship project Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

TfN’s 30-year road and rail upgrade project outlines plans for a new station in Bradford, high-speed rail services from Liverpool to London, and improvements to major highways between the north’s biggest cities – all of which it says will “leave a legacy for future generations.”

The centrepiece is NPR and will put 1.3 million people within an hour’s train journey of at least four major northern cities with upgrades to existing lines in some areas and an entirely new line from Leeds to Manchester via Bradford.

Journey times between the cities will be halved, and TfN has also recommended a new high-speed twin-track rail link between Liverpool and Manchester which would meet HS2 near crew and connect Liverpool to London with 85-minute journeys.

The Strategic Transport Plan (STP) and investment programme will “rebalance decades of underinvestment and transform the lives of people in the north,” TfN says, by bringing £100bn in economic growth and 850,000 extra jobs to the region.

The plan aims to better connect the 16 million people in the north, spending £50 per person on strategic transport each year up to 2050, and will also include enhancements to existing rail networks and the continued roll out of smart ticketing.

The plans will now be considered by the statutory body’s board, which includes a number of metro mayors, council leaders and transport authority leaders, on 7 February. If approved, the plans will become TfN’s statutory advice to the government.

But some critics have shared concerns over how the project will be funded, with Hull North MP Diana Johnson stating that with huge London schemes such as Crossrail 2 already on the drawing board, the north may not be “getting the much-needed fairer share of transport investment.”

Jonathan Bray, director of the Urban Transport Group, said TfN needed to “tackle the big challenges” in the north, and it could “hopefully build a consensus around which Whitehall will feel obliged to act.”

When the proposals were discussed last year, Lord Prescott declared TfN a “bloody fraud” and told the BBC the body was promised to have statutory powers which was now clearly no longer the case.

But TfN’s chief executive Barry White called the STP a “hugely important document for the north” and that it would mean people in the north would have access to higher quality jobs and better connections to collaborate, trade and grow in a sustainable way.

He said: “This final plan will be a statutory document written by the north, for the north, and will be our blueprint to deliver transformational change and leave a legacy for future generations.”

Transport infrastructure in the north and Northern Powerhouse Rail will be the hot topics at TransCityRail North, which takes place on 3 October this year. To find out more click here.

Image credit - George-Standen

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