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Tim Wood on bringing together the voices of the north

Source: RTM: Aug/Sep 19

Ahead of joining the TransCityRail North panel in October, RTM cover star Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director, TfN talks to us about NPR, HS2 and rebalancing the UK economy.

Explain the key challenges of your role as Northern Powerhouse Rail Director? 

The challenge is to drive through the modernisation of the North’s rail infrastructure and to help launch the rebirth of the northern economy. My role is to help bring together the voices of the North so that the imbalance in transport investment is addressed and the North is given the chance for its huge potential to flourish. 

What does this initiative mean for the supply chain? 

The supply chain is absolutely vital to the successful delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail. Having the skills and the infrastructure in the region to help design, build and run the North’s railway of the future underpins the whole project. It’s about jobs and skills, but also about innovating to develop a supply base that is world-class. TfN’s investment programme will create 10,000 new jobs and 500 new apprenticeships in the rail supply chain, and add £589m to the North’s Gross Value Added. 

Explain the long-term ambitions for NPR? 

NPR is nothing less than the complete transformation of the northern economy into a world-leading powerhouse of talent and new technologies. We want NPR to be green, digital and sustainable. But it’s also about leaving a lasting skills legacy. NPR will help grow the Northern skills base to equip us to prosper off the back of our transformed infrastructure. 

How can NPR help rebalance the UK economy? 

Passengers and businesses in the North have been held back for too long by slower than average train speeds and poor connections between our towns and cities. By getting the North to act more like a single, cohesive economy we can drive growth in the northern economy and create an additional 35,000 jobs by 2050. 

Tell us about linking HS2 with NPR and the benefits of doing so? 

It is crucial that NPR complements and is integrated into both the existing rail network and HS2. Using available capacity for trains on HS2 infrastructure, with the addition of junctions, will help improve connectivity and journey times. By working together, costs can be driven down and stations built capable of hosting services from both HS2 and NPR. 

Why do you think events like TransCityRail are vital to the industry and how will the event help deliver your message? 

Events like TransCityRail are forums that allow the industry to come together and promote the cross-pollination that allows contacts to be made, ideas to be shared and the wider railway world made all the stronger. It helps organisations like TfN get their message out to the suppliers about where we are headed and what our needs are and will be in the years ahead. That helps suppliers to plan effectively and to put in place the product and service base that will allow NPR to become a reality.


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