Following the announcement of his appointment by the Chancellor, John Cridland, the new Chair of Transport for the North (TfN), joined Northern Powerhouse Transport Minister, Andrew Jones MP, yesterday (Monday 30 November) to launch the TfN and Government’s joint Autumn Report.
Launched at Manchester Airport railway station’s fourth platform – an important development in improving connectivity across the North and beyond – this update sets out progress so far on TfN and the Government’s ambitious programme to transform northern connectivity. It marks the first formal update since the initial report, The Northern Powerhouse: One Agenda, One Economy, One North, in March this year.
The announcement of the new Chair and publication of the Autumn Report mark two key milestones in the development of the Northern Transport Strategy. Due to be published in March 2016, this strategy will outline investment priorities for transforming connectivity and driving economic growth in the region.
The report gives an update on the progress that TfN has made towards setting out priorities for transforming rail in the North and plans to transform the North’s strategic road network, including the Trans-Pennine road tunnel. In addition, the scope of the regional implementation plan being developed for smart and integrated travel across the North is outlined, along with an update on work under way to integrate plans for freight and logistics, international connectivity and strategic local connectivity.
The launch of the Autumn Report and the new Chair announcement follow confirmation by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement that TfN will be granted a total £50 million in funding over this parliament, which will allow the TfN programme to build on existing momentum and provides the long-term certainty TfN needs to develop as an organisation.
In addition, the Chancellor has announced funding of £150 million to support the delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across local transport and rail services in the North.
TfN, working with the Department for Transport, will now produce an implementation plan by Budget 2016 for the roll-out of this vision over this parliament and beyond. This will focus on the opportunities for the whole of the North and TfN will work with regional partners to link existing schemes and help to make it simple and easy for people to travel across the region by bus, tram, metro and rail.
To support improvements in northern infrastructure, the Chancellor has pledged £300 million to create a new Transport Development Fund. Following advice from the National Infrastructure Commission, this fund could support further development of major rail and road proposals emerging from the Northern Transport Strategy.
John Cridland, who joins TfN having overseen the Confederation of British Industries for five years as Director-General, said: “I am delighted to take up the appointment of Chair of Transport for the North.
“There is much to do to improve transport capacity and links across the North, and we now have the opportunity to make this happen. I look forward to working with city leaders, Ministers and all stakeholders across the North of England.”
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “John Cridland’s appointment is a major step forward for the Northern Powerhouse. His expertise will be invaluable to Transport for the North as it makes recommendations about the long-term investment the region needs. He will be a powerful advocate as we go about the vital task of rebalancing our economy.
“It is also fantastic to see the progress being made on the Northern Transport Strategy with this autumn update. In the Spending Review last week we confirmed a total of £50 million to take this work further, a significant vote of confidence in Transport for the North’s work.”
John Cridland has been as a major voice for the business community, representing the interests of British business to Government, on public platforms and in the media. He has extensive experience campaigning for investment in infrastructure and was awarded a CBE for services to business in 2006.
TfN Chief Executive, David Brown, said: “John Cridland is an inspirational figure in the world of British business and we are delighted to welcome him to this role where he will play a leading part in driving forward TfN’s ambition to create a Northern Powerhouse through transformed connectivity.
“John joins us at an important time, taking over from our interim Chair Sir Richard Leese, who has supported in the development of our Autumn Report, launched today, and has been instrumental in developing TfN and bringing together the regions of the North.
“This is an exciting time for the North and TfN as we put in place plans to connect the region. I look forward to working with John to realise a shared ambition for northern connectivity.”
TfN is a unique partnership between northern local transport authorities, Government and the national transport agencies. It was created in 2014 to allow the North to identify how best to drive economic growth through strategic investment in transport and allows the North to speak with one voice on the big transport decisions which benefit the region as a whole.
Plans are in place to develop TfN into a statutory body by 2017, supported by the Government’s recent commitment to put regional transport bodies – like Transport for the North – on a statutory footing, with legislation introduced into Parliament in November this year.
For further information on TfN, please see www.transportforthenorth.com