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North set to become first region to get transport powers

The North is set to become the first region in the country to get new transport powers from the government Photo: PA

The North is set to become the first region in the country to get new transport powers from the government.

Announced today by Transport Minister Jesse Norman, Transport for the North (TfN) will be the first to have 'unprecedented access to transport investment decision-making across the region'.

New legislation will transform TfN into the first ever statutory sub-national transport body, meaning that it will have legal powers and duties, as part of the government's commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

TfN will also launch a smart ticketing programme, that the Department for Transport has awarded £18.5 million towards.

The scheme will see paperless smart card season tickets introduced for Northern, TransPennine Express and Merseyrail passengers by the end of 2018.

TfN, backed with up to £260 million of government funding, will 'transform' transport across the North of England. It aims to provide the 'infrastructure needed to drive economic growth and create jobs and boost skills'.

All recommendations made by the body will have to be formally considered by the Government.

The remaining funding is available for proposals to extend smart ticketing across public transport in the North, giving passengers more flexibility and a better integrated travel experience, including the ability to renew tickets online, fewer queues at stations and faster journeys through ticket barriers.

Transport Minister Jesse 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 Transport for the North.

“This Government is investing the most cash for a generation in transport projects for the North.

“These new powers will give Transport for the North far greater influence over national infrastructure decisions, as well the certainty they need to plan and drive forward projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and smart ticketing.”

– Jesse Norman, Transport Minister

Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister, said:

We are investing a record £13 billion in transport in the North of England - more than any Government in history. “As part of this, Transport for the North will be a game-changer, with powers to speak with one voice on northern transport projects and drive forward ambitious plans to improve transport connections and unlock economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse.”

– Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister

John Cridland, Independent Chair of Transport for the North, said:

Transport for the North 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. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners to transform the region’s infrastructure and grow the UK economy."

– John Cridland, Independent Chair of Transport for the North

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, for example, this 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

After being approved in Parliament, the legislation will be made into law by the end of the year or shortly afterwards depending on legislative time. TfN will become a statutory body on April 1 2018.