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Northern Transport Strategy Report plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and Smart North

7 March 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Transport for the North (TfN) and the Department for Transport have today launched the Northern Transport Strategy Spring 2016 report, highlighting improvements already made and set out plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and Smart North projects.

Northern Transport Strategy Report plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and Smart North

The Transport Strategy Spring Report was launched on 07 March 2016 in Gateshead, setting out plans for projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and Smart North – a system to help passengers switch easily between buses, trains and trams across the region while ensuring value for money. The report also gives an update on improvements already implemented across rail road and smart ticketing.

“Improving transport links between the North’s major cities is at the heart of our plans to build a Northern Powerhouse”

Commenting on the report, Chancellor George Osborne said: “Improving transport links between the North’s major cities is at the heart of our plans to build a Northern Powerhouse. We created Transport for the North to help identify the priorities to connect up the great cities and towns of the north and to set out a vision to help us transform journeys for hardworking people.

“John Cridland and his team have made enormous progress in the last year and this is a welcome report which shows both the improvements we have already made across the Northern Powerhouse as well as highlighting the potential to go much further.”

The report highlights progress already made over the past year:

  • £2.9 billion commitment to road improvements for the 5 year period to 2020. Construction has already begun on improving access to the Port of Immingham, improving the A1 in Yorkshire and Newcastle, and upgrading key sections of the M60, M1 and M6 to smart motorways;
  • Government securing investments of over £1 billion to upgrade rail infrastructure – including the electrification programme and track, station and signalling improvements – which will allow faster and more frequent services across the north; and
  • TfN and the government are working together on the introduction of the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises, to begin in April 2016, which will deliver new-build trains, more than 500 brand-new carriages, room for 40,000 more passengers and 2,000 extra services a week. TfN will look to build on these improvements and ensure that these transformative links are delivered.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP commented: “This report and our huge investment in transport in the north demonstrate this government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse. 

“From smart motorways and rail franchising to potentially revolutionary future projects including Smart North and Northern Powerhouse Rail, our work is delivering easier and swifter journeys for passengers, and supporting jobs and growth across the region.” 

John Cridland, Chair of Transport for the North (TfN) said: “I’m delighted with the progress of our ambitious plans to transform infrastructure in the north of England. Our vision to rebalance the economy will greatly benefit residents of the north and the United Kingdom as a whole. Looking to the future we’ll build on our research, which is underpinned by the first Independent Economic Review for the North, to devise a prioritised investment programme.”

Smart North and Northern Powerhouse Rail

The Spring Report also highlights ambitious projects to transform travel in the north. The emerging Northern Powerhouse Rail network – an ambitious plan to link the north from west to east with a network of high quality rail connections – will slash journey times and increase the frequency of services. Work continues to identify where upgrades to the existing network are possible and new lines may be desirable.

Northern Transport Strategy Report plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and Smart North

The report outlines TfN’s implementation plan for Smart North, a smart ticketing system to simplify fares, slash queuing times and help passengers switch easily between buses, trains and trams.  TfN intends to roll this out step-by-step across the region. 

The Transport Strategy Spring Report has been based on initial findings of the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review.

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