Up to £260M of transport funding will be available for the North of England as the region gets “unprecedented” devolved spending powers, the governmen has announced.
Transport for the North (TfN) will become England’s first statutory sub-national transport body and have access to £150M for smart-ticketing and £60M to go towards Northern Powerhouse Rail to improve east-west connectivity. An additional £50M will be set aside to run TfN.
It will have powers to produce a transport strategy which must be formally considered by the government and to fund organisations to deliver transport projects.
TfN chairman John Cridland said: “Becoming a sub-national transport body means that the Secretary of State of the day will take into account the North’s priorities when making transport infrastructure investment.
“These priorities will be developed collaboratively and we are currently working with our partners to finalise the draft strategic transport plan, which will be published for public consultation early next year.
“This is a 30 year transport strategy for the North that will help drive economic growth in the region and help to rebalance the UK economy – statutory status will ensure this plan is considered as a formal statutory document that can provide a solid, evidence-based framework for transport investment in the North over the coming decades.”
Rail North, an association of local authorities, will formally become part of TfN and work with government to co-manage the Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises.
Paperless, smart card season tickets for Northern, TransPennine Express and Merseyrail passengers will be introduced by the end of next year. TfN will work with local authorities to fund, promote and deliver road schemes and will be consulted on rail franchises.
Transport minister Jesse Norman said: “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 and smart ticketing.”
After being approved in Parliament the legislation will be made into law by the end of the year or in early 2018 and TfN will become a statutory body on 1 April next year.
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry said: “TfN 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.”
Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming added: “For too long, the North of England economy has lagged behind the South East.
”Devolving spending powers to the North will enable the development of an integrated transport system, to the benefit of businesses and communities across the region.”