Transport for the North (TfN) has today (Thursday 28 January) welcomed the passage of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act following the announcement of royal assent.
This is a significant step forward in TfN’s plans to deliver improved connections for businesses and commuters across the north. The Act paves the way for a new statutory basis for the organisation, enabling the north of England to draw down powers and resources from central government to deliver improvements to transport across the Northern Powerhouse region.
In response to this opportunity, TfN will now come forward with specific proposals for the powers it needs. These will include:
. Powers to create a statutory northern transport strategy, setting out priorities for significant investment in the north’s inter-city road and rail network
. Powers to coordinate and prioritise a new pan-northern system of smart and integrated ticketing
. Powers to coordinate and oversee the delivery of ambitious and transformational cross-northern transport investments, by developing plans and commissioning and coordinating their delivery
. A further strengthening of governance arrangements, allowing TfN to represent all communities across the north
. Developing the role and powers of Rail North, devolving greater responsibility from government for oversight of the Northern and TransPennine rail services. Rail North has already had an impact in radically improving the specification for improved services from these franchises, and the new statutory powers will create further opportunities for the services to be accountable directly to the north of England.
Commenting on this opportunity, TfN Chair John Cridland said: “TfN began as a partnership between the northern cities, determined to improve transport infrastructure and services across the north of England, to grow the economy and create new business opportunities.
“With the passage of this Act of Parliament today, TfN can now move our partnership to a new level, speaking with one voice for the whole of the north, and with the legal powers we need to deliver on those ambitions. This is a big step forward for devolution, and a great opportunity to transform the connectivity of communities across the north.”
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “Our changes, plus the £50 million we are giving Transport for the North (TfN) up to 2020, underlines the government’s commitment to building a Northern Powerhouse. This is a major step forward in making TfN a statutory body, giving local people a say in transport for their area. Giving TfN a legal basis will ensure it has impact, influence, and the certainty to plan and drive forward projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail (HS3) and the roll out of smart ticketing in the north.”
The passage of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act comes ahead of the publication of the Northern Transport Strategy in March 2016, a joint publication from TfN and government which will outline investment priorities for transforming connectivity and driving economic growth in the region.
For further information on TfN, please see www.transportforthenorth.com.