Sub-national transport bodies (STBs) Midlands Connect and Transport for the North (TfN) have signed a landmark agreement to work together and establish a new rail forum.
The two bodies signed a memorandum of understanding to commit to the forum, which will include the future development of the East Coast and West Coast main lines and High Speed 2 (HS2) phase 2a and 2b.
Both bodies are currently producing masterplans for the areas around the proposed HS2 stations. These include plans to integrate stations with the local transport networks to capitalise on the high speed network.
It would also include the work being undertaken by Growth Track 360 in North Wales and Cheshire, and the Constellation Partnership in Staffordshire and Cheshire.
Midlands Connect said the aim of the agreement was to work more closely “towards a mutual vision for rebalancing the UK economy through sustainable transport improvements”.
The forum is expected to meet on a quarterly basis.
As part of the agreement, the two bodies have also pledged to collaborate on other areas including sharing ideas on policy development and long-term funding; transport planning, modelling and appraisal; and joint approaches to sustainability and autonomous vehicles.
“What improves connectivity in the Midlands will inevitably help the North to grow as well, and vice versa,” said Midlands Connect director Maria Machancoses. “That’s why this agreement is so important.
“I’m particularly excited by the establishment of a Midlands Connect–Transport for the North Rail Forum, which will help us ensure our Midlands Rail Hub proposals align with the development of both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“As we work with the government and partners towards becoming a statutory STB, we can learn a lot from TfN’s experience in gaining statutory status earlier this year. I look forward to working together even more closely as we strive to rebalance the British economy.”
TfN chief executive Barry White said he was “delighted” by the agreement.
“This agreement shows that while our remit is the North, if we are to truly rebalance the UK economy we need to look past geographical boundaries,” said White. “We need to make end-to-end journeys the best they can be, regardless of where that journey may start and finish.
TfN was granted statutory sub-national transport body status in April 2018 with Midlands Connect working towards statutory status by 2020.
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