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TfN appoints single leader to oversee both infrastructure and operations in the north

Transport for the North (TfN) has announced that Richard George has been appointed by government to oversee both infrastructure and train operations in the region.

George, who has extensive rail industry experience, will liaise with TfN in response to transport secretary Chris Grayling’s recommendation that the role be created.

The appointment was announced by transport minister Jo Johnson when the TfN board met in Sheffield late last week, with the board also announcing that a deal has been agreed over compensation for regular customers in the most disrupted areas.

George has served as chairman of the boards of FirstGroup, First Great Western, First Great Eastern and First North Western, and is currently global head of rail infrastructure at SNC-Lavalin.

John Cridland, chairman of TfN, said: “Richard George’s appointment is a major step forward for the travelling public of the north and a clear indication that government is listening to the views of TfN.

“It will enable us to address the structural issues relating to the rail industry that have had a major impact on passengers, while the imminent implementation of the further compensation scheme we have been seeking will help passengers who were disrupted earlier this year.”

The TfN board welcomed the allocation of nearly £3bn over the next five years at the meeting, part of the first phase of upgrading the TransPennine line.

It also called for the route upgrade to fully deliver its original targets, which include 40-minute journeys between Leeds and Manchester and 62-minute journeys between Manchester and York, as well as increased capacity through larger trains.

However, Network Rail’s managing director of the London North Western & East Midlands route Rob McIntosh said in a letter to Chris Grayling that, to achieve these improvements, the large-scale disruption will close down the line for the lion’s share of five years.

Cridland added: “Our call to government is an example of the north clearly stating its intent and ambition with a single voice through TfN.

“We are pleased that the government is showing continued commitment to the TransPennine Route Upgrade, which is a vital component of the Northern Powerhouse, and we look forward to working closely with the DfT and Network Rail as detailed design begins.”

The news on compensation comes after the announcement of an enhanced delay repay scheme for Northern passengers. From December, passengers whose journeys are disrupted by 15-29 minutes will be able to claim compensation through the scheme.

Investment in the railways of the north of England will be discussed extensively at this year’s TransCityRail North, where TfN’s NPR director Tim Wood is keynote speaker. Don’t miss your chance to attend, visit the website here.

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Image credit - Michael McNiven


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