Transport minister Jesse Norman has confirmed that Transport for the North is to be made a statutory body, giving it legal powers and duties as it seeks to develop Northern England’s transport networks.
TfN is to be backed with up to £260m of funding. The Government has confirmed £150m is available to TfN for smart ticketing, £60m for Northern Powerhouse Rail and £50m to run TfN.
The body being put on a statutory footing means that its recommendations must be formally considered by the Government.
The Department for Transport also today confirmed the award of £18.5m for TfN’s smart ticketing programme. TfN will use this to introduce paperless, smartcard season tickets for Northern, TransPennine Express and Merseyrail passengers by the end of 2018.
Norman said: “We are committed to the Northern Powerhouse, and to giving the great towns and cities of the North more say over transport investment through their umbrella body TfN.
“This government is investing the most cash for a generation in transport projects for the North. These new powers will give TfN far greater influence over national infrastructure decisions, as well the certainty they need to plan and drive forward projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
John Cridland, TfN chairman, said: “TfN gaining statutory status is an important step towards transforming the North of England and giving it the voice and powers it needs to move forward.
“To have the statutory instrument laid before Parliament is a tremendous achievement, having secured the support of 56 local authorities including all 19 of our constituent authorities.”
TfN’s draft strategic transport plan, mapping out its 30-year plan, will be published for consultation early next year.
The move means that from April, TfN will get new powers to:
- produce a statutory transport strategy for the North which the Government must formally consider when taking funding decisions
- fund organisations to deliver transport projects, which could include transport operators delivering smart ticketing in the North
- work with local authorities to fund, promote and deliver road schemes – and be consulted on rail franchises in the North
- take forward smart ticketing to bring in faster, easier rail travel
Rail North, an association of local authorities including all the TfN members and Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent, will also formally become part of TfN and work with Government to co-manage the Northern and Transpennine Express rail franchises.
Parliamentary approval is expected towards the end of the year, with TfN becoming a statutory body on 1 April 2018.
Commenting on the news, Nasar Malik, director at engineering consultancy WSP, said: “Transport for the North being granted statutory status as England’s first sub-national transport body is great news for the North. They have done some fantastic work to date engaging both the public and private sector , and these necessary devolved powers are a must for its full implementation.
“This announcement demonstrates Government’s commitment to empowering the North with the authority it needs to sort out local road and rail routes, and devise a holistic and future ready approach to its mobility agenda, including maritime and aerial transport.”