Transport for the North has announced that industry veteran Richard George has been appointed by Government to liaise with TfN on both infrastructure and train operations, after the body requested such a role be created this summer.
The position was announced at TfN’s board meeting yesterday by transport minister Jo Johnson. George has served as chairman on the boards of First Group, First Great Western, First Great Eastern and First North Western. He was director of transport at the London Olympics and is currently global head of rail infrastructure at Canadian construction giant SNC Lavalin.
John Cridland, TfN chairman, said: “Richard George’s appointment is a major step forward for the travelling public of the North and a clear indication that Government is listening to the views of Transport for the North. It will enable us to address the structural issues relating to the rail industry that have had a major impact on passengers, while the imminent implementation of the further compensation scheme we have been seeking will help passengers who were disrupted earlier this year.”
George will assume his role following final agreement between TfN and the Department for Transport on the details of the appointment.
TfN also said that terms have been agreed between the Rail North Partnership and Northern on compensation for some regular travellers in areas most disrupted. An announcement will follow from the train operating companies with the scheme implemented as soon as possible.
The news on compensation follows the announcement yesterday of an enhanced Delay Repay scheme for Northern passengers. From December, passengers whose journeys are disrupted by 15-29 minutes will also be able to claim compensation under the Northern Delay Repay scheme, lowering the threshold from those delayed by 30 minutes or more.
The TfN board welcomed the allocation of nearly £3bn over the next five years by Government as the first phase of upgrading the Transpennine railway line. But the Board also made a clear call to ensure that designs for the Transpennine Route Upgrade programme should allow for the full delivery of all outcomes originally agreed:
- Target journey times of 40 minutes between Leeds and Manchester and 62 minutes between Manchester and York
- Six long distance trains per hour, whilst allowing for the same frequency of local trains
- Greater capacity through provision for longer trains
- The highest reliability levels of any long-distance service in Britain
- Provision for freight, with the option to transport containers by rail
Furthermore, Transport for the North wants to ensure that any upgrades are environmentally sustainable and do not have a negative impact on air quality.
On the subject of rail performance, Northern, TransPennine Express and Network Rail presented to the board on their improvement plans.