TfN hit by criticism as it launches £70bn Strategic Transport Plan

Transport for the North (TfN) has published its long-awaited Strategic Transport Plan which includes plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a network connecting the north’s six biggest cities.

However, the organisation, which will become England’s first sub-national statutory body in April, has not been gifted powers to generate its own funds in the way bodies such as Transport for London can.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott had been attending the launch event for the plan, but was stormed out in protest at the plans.

“It was promised to have statutory powers,” he told the BBC. “Now we know, and it's been confirmed by government, it will have no powers.

“It can talk to the treasury along with the strategic bodies but it can't make a decision and it doesn't get any money. It's a bloody fraud.”

Stretching from Liverpool to Hull, the new NPR network would include a new line running between Liverpool and the HS2 Manchester spur via Warrington, hoped to reduce travel time from 50 minutes to 28.

The total cost of the plan would be around £69bn between now and 2050 – equating to £2.3bn a year or an estimated £150 per northern passenger.

Connections with HS2

HS2 is central to the development of NPR, and the planned inclusion of new junctions and stations is hoped to link Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield via high speed services, with upgraded lines connecting Hull and Newcastle to the rest of the network.

It also details a new TransPennine line between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford, along with upgrades to the Hope Valley line from Sheffield to Manchester via Stockport.

Manchester Piccadilly features heavily in the plan, with the potential for new underground platforms to be developed as part of the HS2 spurs developments and wider boosted capacity improvements which would allow for eight through-services every hour.

TfN says the new network will mean that more than 1.2 million people will live within an hour's train journey of at least four major northern cities.

“The north is a rich, diverse region and home to around 16 million people,” commented John Cridland, TfN chairman. “We have vibrant communities, buzzing cities, five stunning national parks, an abundance of talent and a wealth of high-performing businesses.

“TfN’s vision is of a thriving north of England, where modern transport connections drive economic growth and support an excellent quality of life.

“For the first time, civic and business leaders and transport operators are speaking with one voice on transport to make sure the north fulfils its potential.

“Our plan proposes a revolutionary investment programme that will make it possible to travel to high quality jobs. This is an ambitious programme that will improve our roads and railways, and will also drive a sea change in skills development in the north and ensuring we meet that historic gap in investment.”

How will it be funded?

Ministers will have to consider TfN’s recommendations in April, and, due to the organisation’s inability to generate its own income, a “substantial” part of funding is expected to come from central government – although TfN will also be exploring “significant opportunities” to work with the private sector.

The strategy has previously been pushed back by TfN, although a number of plans have been presented as part of evidence to be used in the full document.

Public consultation on the plan will run until 17 April, with a final version due to be presented to the government for consideration later this year.

Top Image: onfilm


David E Fletcher   02/02/2018 at 11:08

Can't comment as have not yet been able to get hold of a copy!

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