Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has secured a new devolution deal with the UK government to provide the local authority with more influence over regional rail services within its Bee Network.
The Bee Network is set to be a London-style intergraded transport system that includes bus, Metrolink, rail and cycle hire. It will provide customers with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing.
Significant progress is already underway on this system, with bus franchising deals under public control set to take effect from September in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Bury and Salford.
To build on the existing franchising plans for buses and trams, Greater Manchester’s latest devolution deal will also enable full integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030.
This will include touch-in/touch-out integrated ticketing across bus, Metrolink and rail services, as well as Bee Network branding across the entire public transport network.
These aspects will be delivered through a new Rail Partnership with Great British Railways, which will agree on the first pilots for integrated fares and ticketing by the end of the year.
“The integrated Bee Network will transform how people move around our growing city-region and radically improve what it is like to do business here for generations to come. Better rail services are critical elements in delivering this.
“We are supportive of rail reform under Great British Railways (GBR) and I very much welcome this Trailblazer Deal. It provides a firm foundation for effective partnership working with GBR with clear initial actions to enable full integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030.”
The new deal will also allow the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to have greater input on stations, services and strategic infrastructure investment with the creation of the North West Regional Business Unit and GM Rail Board.
Through these authorities, GMCA aims to improve local scrutiny of performance in order to deliver the best possible public transport experience.
In addition, the deal commits the government and GMCA to identify the required legal powers for TfGM to effectively tackle anti-social behaviour and fare evasion.
“To create a simpler and better railway for everyone in Britain, the railway must be much closer and more responsive to the needs of customers and local communities. This requires the creation of a new guiding mind which can ensure the railway fulfils its potential as a catalyst for growth and supports local ambitions for effective and reliable connectivity.
“We have been working together with Transport for Greater Manchester for some time and it is pleasing to see this collaborative work come to fruition with the announcement of this trailblazer devolution deal. We look forward to continuing to work closely with TfGM to deliver a railway that works better for passengers and supports the delivery of the Bee Network.”
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