Northern Train at Leeds station, credited to David Oates Photography

Northern Evidence Academic Forum investigates social implications of transport investments

The Northern Evidence Academic Forum will be meeting tomorrow, 28th September, with academics gathering to discuss the wider impacts of transport on people and communities. This forum, established by Transport for the North (TfN), brings together the region’s best policy and decision makers with the researchers who have accumulated data that could map future transport projects.

Transport investments are often made with operational benefits acting as the main targets, such as cutting journey times or maximising line capacity in the rail sector. The Northern Evidence Academic Forum aims to reconsider this approach, offering recognition to championing the wider impacts in transport policy and investment. The TfN have recently published a research report discussing transport-related social exclusion (TRSE), further highlighting the need to assert social benefits into the forefront of project planning within the sector.

The 2019 Strategic Transport Plan outlines a linear route to creating greater opportunities for those who live and work in the North, championing the need for major infrastructure investment to re-balance the UK’s economy and encourage socials prosperity. As the UK continues levelling up and decarbonising industries to achieve carbon net-zero, rail infrastructural investment is necessary to meet these targets, but these projects must be performed in ways to maximise social connections.

Tim Foster, Interim Strategy and Programmes Director at Transport for the North, said:

"Globally, transport is a fundamental part of modern living, and it has profound impacts on health and inequalities. Having good transport links can have a major impact on every aspect of people’s lives – from being able to get to work or school or visiting friends and family, to ensuring deliveries and vital services can get through without disruption. Improving our understanding of the challenges that people face, and by sharing the evidence with our delivery partners and decision-makers, we can drive positive change for all communities across the North.”

In this edition of the Northern Evidence Academic Forum, TfN will be welcoming four key speakers to discuss their work on how to measure and achieve these positive impacts whilst mitigating the potential negative impacts.

Speakers for this Northern Evidence Academic Forum include:

  • Dr Karen Lucas, University of Manchester – presenting on the social and equity dimensions of transport investments
  • Joe McTigue, Northern Trains Limited – presenting on the value of rail in the North across economic, social, and environmental dimensions.
  • Dr Like Jiang, University of Leeds – presenting on understanding the impacts of transport noise
  • Jack Ford, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Transport for the North

Joe McTigue, Northern Trains Limited said:

“It is clear from this analysis that the Government’s investments in Northern represent good value for money and bring positive impacts across diverse range of economic, social, and environmental criteria. Northern is continuing to refresh and add to this analysis, which has helped in our decision making as well as monitoring and evaluation.”

The discussions and findings from this forum will also be incorporated into TfN’s Northern Evidence Hub. This will facilitate the sharing of knowledge throughout the region, with aims to ensure Northern policymakers can access robust evidence from a single location.

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