Upon the news of Liz Truss’ victory in the recent Conservative Party leadership race, thus becoming the UK’s third female Prime Minister, Transport for the North (TfN) are now calling upon the government for transport investment that will help transform the North of England’s economy whilst laying the foundations for sustainable future growth.
The TfN board have penned a letter to the new Prime Minister, defining the urgent priorities that must be addressed for Northern transport. Major projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 must be completed in full, unlocking the necessary interlinking potential between major cities across the UK. These projects must be accompanied by local and regional improvements to the existing congested rail network that can unlock the further modal shift of freight haulage to the rail sector.
According to TfN the following actions are essential and could be delivered immediately alongside wider measures to protect households and businesses this winter:
- The government could confirm that rail fares will remain at current levels and not rise in line with current levels of inflation. It could also introduce a £2 cap on bus fares (bringing other authorities into line with measures implemented in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire).
- Providing additional financial support for train operating companies (TOCs) and further extending recovery funding to support bus services in local communities for a further six months (to September 2023).
- Given the current impacts of critical driver shortages on services, there is an urgent need to recruit and train drivers to strengthen the resilience of rail operations. We advocate developing a driver training academy, building on proposals by Northern Trains Limited.
In a letter to the new Prime Minister, Lord McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North said:
“Millions of people across the North rely entirely on public transport and are at real risk of further disadvantage. In recent months, the North has led the recovery of rail patronage and accepted tough compromises to service patterns to keep our transport networks operational. Without further support, a further decline in confidence and sense of managed decline feels inevitable and cannot be allowed to occur.”
“We welcomed your strong commitment to seeing Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) constructed in full, as you set out in Leeds. We have developed clear and agreed plans for the network, costed at £43bn, including our preferences for a mix of new lines and major upgrades as a network spanning from Liverpool in the west to Hull in the east, and from Newcastle in the north to Sheffield in the south.”
“Confirmation in the September budget will send a clear signal to the North about the government’s intentions to reverse decisions taken in the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), including the Eastern Leg of HS2. The Transport Select Committee concluded that the proposals published in the IRP fail to achieve the long-term step change for the rail network across the North.”
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