Transport for the North applies for devolved powers

Transport for the North (TfN) has submitted a formal proposal to the Department for Transport to become a statutory sub-national transport body, which if approved will allow key powers to be transferred from central government.

TfN is targeting statutory status by 2017. The proposal, which will be considered by transport secretary Chris Grayling, outlines the powers the organisation is looking to take over from the government and how those powers will be managed and delivered.

If Grayling agrees to the bid, a statutory instrument will then need to be approved by each House of Parliament. If successful TfN, which has £50m confirmed funding over this Parliament and represents all local enterprise partnerships and all combined authorities and local transport authorities in the north, would be the first sub-national transport body in England.

The organisation was created in 2014 to allow the region to identify how best to drive economic growth through strategic investment in transport. Earlier this year, TfN published a Northern Transport Strategy Report, which set out plans for a range of transformative projects across the regions such as east-west rail links and Smart North – a smart ticketing system to help passengers switch easily between buses, trains and trams across the region while ensuring value for money.

David Brown, chief executive of TfN, said that they had submitted the application 14 October, following several months of preparation for what it rightly being seen as a highly significant development in the north’s devolution journey.

Brown commented: “This is a significant moment for the north, and for the wider UK, as work continues to develop the transport systems and infrastructure we need to rebalance the economy.  Working with our northern partners, the Department for Transport, and the national operators, our mission is to kick-start transformational change by building on the foundations of an evidence-driven Northern Transport Investment Plan.

“It’s an entirely new approach to developing transport infrastructure in the north, and while it will bring with it challenges, the results are aimed directly at closing the productivity gap between the north and the rest of the UK. It is ambitious, but it needs to be if the north is to be truly competitive on the world-stage.”

Brown said that hoped that TfN would better connect the major urban centres and economic assets of the north to market opportunities. “If we get this right then a higher-performing, more unified northern economy will be a magnet for inward investment. And, if we do that, it could add more than £97bn in real terms in gross value added and 850,000 new jobs by 2050. Clearly this is a prize worth having both for the north and the rest of the UK,” said Brown.

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