Northern train at Manchester Oxford Road (Tony Miles)

UK: The Transport for the North board has written to the new Prime Minister Liz Truss setting out its key priorities to boost economic growth in the north of England.

For the rail sector, TfN calls for:

  • major projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed 2 to be completed in full;
  • local and regional improvements to unlock freight and passenger capacity;
  • fares to remain at current levels and not rise in line with current levels of inflation;
  • additional financial support for train operating companies;
  • urgent recruitment and training of train drivers to strengthen the resilience of rail operations, with the creation of a driver training academy, building on recent proposals put forward by operator Northern.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Lord Patrick McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North, writes that the region ‘has led the recovery of rail patronage and accepted tough compromises to service patterns to keep our transport networks operational. Without further support, a further decline in confidence and sense of managed decline feels inevitable and cannot be allowed to occur.’

He welcomed Truss’s past ‘strong commitment to seeing Northern Powerhouse Rail constructed in full’.

He said ’we have developed clear and agreed plans for the network, costed at £43bn, including our preferences for a mix of new lines and major upgrades as a network spanning from Liverpool in the west to Hull in the east, and from Newcastle in the north to Sheffield in the south.

‘Confirmation in the September budget will send a clear signal to the north about the government’s intentions to reverse decisions taken in the Integrated Rail Plan, including the Eastern Leg of HS2. The Transport Select Committee concluded that the proposals published in the IRP fail to achieve the long-term step change for the rail network across the north of England.’