Burnham: I don’t have power to get grip on transport

Andy Burnham has announced a series of changes across Greater Manchester to ease congestion, but has admitted he doesn’t have the powers to make any meaningful impact on transport unless the Government gives him more control.

With roadworks and increased traffic leaving Manchester city centre in deadlock this week, plus continuing problems with the Northern and TransPennine rail services, Burnham described the City Region’s transport situation as “outdated, fragmented and unaccountable”, and said that Greater Manchester did not “have the power to get to grips” with its transport challenges unless it was given similar day-to-day controls as London.

However, despite repeated attempts, transport secretary Chris Grayling has ignored Burnham’s requests throughout the year for an urgent meeting. Burnham stressed though that “this is not a personality clash or a party political issue. I’m ready to meet him at any time.”

Today the Mayor launched the ‘Take control of our Transport’ campaign, and is asking the people of Greater Manchester to get behind him so he can pressure the Government to grant the City Region additional powers, such as oversight over Highways England for the road network, full oversight over rail franchises, ability to regulate taxi drivers, and the reforms included in the Bus Services Act. All this should be underpinned by the major investment suggested by the National Infrastructure Commission, Burnham said.

He described the various transport systems as “impossible to integrate” and said that he had been “frankly shocked by the lack of response and accountability from the rail and bus industries.”

He admitted that before running for Mayor he had thought he would be able to do more, but said “nothing quite prepares you for sitting where I sit… I don’t have hold of the levers I need to change these things.”

Burnham said that on Monday, only 34% of TransPennine rail services ran on time, while Northern was around 70%. Both are still at a level below Govia Thameslink, which has received a clear ultimatum from Grayling. Burnham has asked him to show “the same decisive approach in the North”.

In terms of the recent peak in congestion issues, Burnham said everyone involved, including Greater Manchester, needed to “up their game”.

The following changes are due to implemented “imminently”:

  • TfGM will launch a digital service updating sat-navs and other navigation services in real time, 24/7
  • An early bird Metrolink offer will be introduced by December to encourage more people to use the trams before peak time
  • Two additional hourly buses will be added to the guided busway at peak times
  • Review into increasing capacity for parking at Metrolink stops to encourage ‘park-and-ride
  • Review into changing working hours on non-essential roadworks
  • A weekly congestion meeting to monitor issues and suggest changes

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

Pathetic. We can run our own health service but not transport. This regional racism from Westminster is criminal.

By Elephant

This is a disgrace. If the mayor has no real power, then the transport secretary should be held to account. There is much wrong with Manchester’s road and rail infrastructure. It badly needs significant investment, similar to what London has had in last 10 years.

By Adam Ash

Where does Transport for the North fit in all this?

By Anon

He does however have the power to decide when roadworks are undertaken.

This is a political stunt to try and move the focus from the shambolic decisions to dig up all of the arterial routes at once.

I would also be interested to see some key performance indicators showing progress on what he does have control of I.e homelessness, housing, spatial plan etc

By KP eyed.

What power does he need that he doesn’t have?

By PowerUp

KP eyed – he doesn’t. Local Authorities approve s.50 licences, not TfGM. Get your facts straight.

By Factz

Regarding roadworks – during the briefing Burnham said that he currently has no oversight over Highways England, which runs its own programme of roadworks, independently to that of activity a council may be doing

By Jessica Middleton-Pugh

“He does however have the power to decide when roadworks are undertaken.”

Incorrect. This is down to either the individual districts (Manchester CC, Tameside MBC…etc), or Highways England.

By AB for PM

Useless Labour all over again, we should’ve voted a Conservative in.


Maybe Mr. Burnham could get a job as a stand up comic if he can’t sort out transport, which is the artery that carries the lifeblood of the city, Greater Manchester and beyond. Oh, to have leaders not politicians…..

By MP3

All those people who thought that the EU was the cause of our problems (understandably given the hostile press and self-serving MPs desparate to deflect blame onto someone else) when the real culprit was Westminster all along. I wonder what they’re thinking now?

By Brex-wrong

PDM – “we should’ve voted a Conservative in” – is that because you’d prefer to hear someone else complaining that they don’t have adequate powers?

Interestingly, Andy Street, Conservative West Midlands mayor, frequently makes a very similar point.

By the sea

By the Sea has a point but a Tory government is more likely to give goodies to one of their own than a Labour mayor. Street has been lobbying hard for Channel 4 for Birmingham and as the West Midlands is the only conurbation where the Conservatives seem to have any support,he will likely win that prize. If GM had a Tory mayor,Channel 4 would now be on their way to Mediacity.

By Elephant

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 12,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 12,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

Would you also like to receive our free PlaceTech Weekly newsletter, covering innovation in property?*