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Improvements to road, rail and air links top of the agenda as Transport for the North gets moving

Ambitious plans to improve road and rail links across the North of England were top of the agenda as a new transport[1] authority met for the first time since receiving legal recognition. Transport for the North held its first board meeting since receiving statutory powers. These give it a right in law to advise the Transport Secretary about how to get the North of England moving.

Representatives from the North East joined colleagues from the North West and Yorkshire at the event in Liverpool on Thursday. They discussed an ongoing consultation about a Strategic Transport Plan published earlier this year, which included proposals such as a smart-ticketing, dubbed ‘an Oyster card for the North’, upgrades to roads such as the A66 and a major rail project called Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will improve connections between Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds.

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The consultation ends on April 17, and a final version of the transport plan will be published later in the year. Transport for the North is the first regional transport authority to get formal legal status.

Others, such as a similar body in the Midlands called Midlands Connect, are expected to follow in the future.

Jonathan Spruce, strategy director for Transport for the North

Jonathan Spruce, strategy director for Transport for the North, said: “We have a direct responsibility for making recommendations to the Transport Secretary about major road and rail improvements across the North of England. “It’s the first time any area has had that direct responsibility. “Through the final version of the transport plan at the end of the year we will be setting out the next five years of road and rail improvements across the north, and giving an indication of the type of improvements over 10 years that we think the North needs.”

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He added: “For the first time the people of the North have a direct input to government as to what road and rail improvements they think are needed to support the North’s economy.

That’s never happened before.” Transport for the North’s board includes elected leaders from 19 local and combined authorities, such as Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, as well as business leaders and representatives from Highways England, HS2 and Network Rail. Northern Powerhouse Rail will create a regular service from Newcastle to Leeds in under 60 minutes using HS2 infrastructure, upgrades to the East Coast Main Line and modern trains travelling up to 125mph.

Improvements to road, rail and air links top of the agenda as Transport for the North gets moving Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to play Tap to playThe video will start in 8Cancel

Transport for the North’s chairman is John Cridland, a former director general of the CBI.

He said: “The scale of opportunity and ambition cannot be understated. For the first time, recommendations on what and where investment is needed will be agreed by the people that live and work in the North, allowing us to speak with a united voice to central Government. “It’s a watershed moment for devolution and a once in a generation opportunity to deliver significant improvements in the North’s transport network.

“Our Strategic Transport Plan will set the blueprint for transport infrastructure improvements across the next 30 years and will allow us to make a strong and consistent case to Government for sustained investment in the North.”

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Not everyone has been impressed by the new transport authority.

Former Hull MP John Prescott told the BBC earlier this year that as it doesn’t have statutory powers beyond the right to advise the Secretary of State of its own money, it amounts to a “bloody fraud”.

Transport for the North’s leaders say it may gain more powers and direct control over budgets in future.

References

  1. ^ transport (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)



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