Despite Government commitments to continue to “level up” the North of England by investing in northern transport schemes, it has opted to cut 40% of the core central funding for Transport for the North (TfN).
Papers released ahead of a TfN board meeting this week revealed the significant budget cut, as well as revealing that it would also lose out on a fifth of its annual funding for next year.
Northern Powerhouse Rail’s annual budget for development has also been frozen at £75m, 33% less than the amount requested by TfN for 2021.
The Department for Transport also mothballed plans to roll out contactless ticketing across the region as part of the cuts, cancelling more than £100m in future funding for the project.
Similarly, plans to introduce contactless payment infrastructure across the Tyne and Wear Metro, Merseyside and Blackpool, at a cost of £33m, are expected to be shelved.
In response, Iain Craven, Finance Director at Transport for the North, said: “Transport for the North’s Board has clearly indicated its disappointment and concern that, a time when the Government’s levelling up agenda is needed most, funding is being cut, putting northern investment and jobs at risk. It falls substantially short of what we outlined the North would need to level-up infrastructure and accelerate benefits to the region.
“There is a real worry that this signals a diminishing ambition for the North, rather than pump-priming the region’s economic recovery.
“Establishing Transport for the North was a symbolic moment for devolving power to Northern leaders, one that fully supports the levelling-up agenda. Our members have clearly indicated the ambition that, over time, TfN should have a greater role and more oversight of investment, but the opposite is proposed.
“Further to the discussion at today’s Board, we are seeking an early meeting between our members and the transport secretary.”
TfN is now said to be in dialogue with the Department for Transport regarding the settlement.