Rail News

Unique New Powers for Transport for the North in Pioneering Legislation

New legal powers to give the North an unprecedented say on how money is spent on transport were announced yesterday (16 November 2017) by Transport Minister Jesse Norman.

Pioneering legislation to transform Transport for the North (TfN) into the first ever statutory sub-national transport body – with legal powers and duties – were laid in Parliament, underlining the government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

Transport for the North
Northern Rail Train © Ray Forster (license)

Transforming Transport across the North of England

TfN – backed with up to £260 million of government funding – will transform transport across the North of England, providing the infrastructure needed to drive economic growth and create jobs and boost skills. The move to put TfN on a statutory footing means that its recommendations must be formally considered by the government.

The Department for Transport also today confirmed the award of £18.5 million from a £150 million government fund for TfN’s smart ticketing programme. TfN will use this to introduce paperless, smart card season tickets for Northern and TransPennine Express and Merseyrail passengers by the end of 2018.

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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.

New Powers for Transport for the North

As part of the government’s devolution agenda the North has been given real autonomy to run transport through bodies like Transport for Greater Manchester (TFGM) / Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive (Nexus) in large urban areas. Local authorities, mayors and combined authorities already have responsibility for running transport in rural areas, town and cities and will continue to do so. The government is now giving TfN powers to set the strategic direction for transport in the North through their statutory transport strategy. In addition TfN, should its members agree, is able to request additional powers for consideration by the Transport Secretary.

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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.
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A Statutory Body

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 1 April 2018.

TfN is a partnership of 19 local authorities, business leaders and 11 local enterprise partnership areas from across the North. It will help determine the top priorities for transport in the area and work with government to ensure these are taken into account in decisions made by the Transport Secretary.

The government has confirmed £150 million is available to TfN for smart ticketing, £60 million for Northern Powerhouse Rail and £50 million to run TfN, a total of up to £260 million.

Original article © Department for Transport.

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