Think tank IPPR calls for transport body to boost north of England

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Control over transport policy in northern England should be devolved to a new body called Transport for the North, according to a report by think tank IPPR North.

The report, “Transport for the North - a blueprint for devolving and integrating transport powers in England”, also urges chancellor George Osborne to use the last Budget of the parliament to invest £15bn in northern England’s transport network.

Under the ambitious plans, Transport for the North (TfN) would emulate Transport for London, integrating rail, road, sea and air transport, and deciding priorities for infrastructure investment, franchising and ticketing.

To kick-start the process, the report urges the chancellor to invest in the £15bn One North infrastructure priorities brought forward by northern cities last year - often referred to as HS3. The plans would provide much-needed improvements to rail and road links between Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield.

IPPR North’s 10-year blueprint recommends:

  • The appointment of a Transport Commissioner for the North, who would be accountable to the public and be a figurehead for developing northern transport
  • A move towards a contactless, cross-boundary ticketing system - using mobile phones and contactless payments for journeys across different modes of transport
  • The management by TfN of rail franchises, rolling stock and stations.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “Northern transport infrastructure is dated, poorly integrated and lacking the large-scale investment it needs, but Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the Northern powerhouse. Devolving transport powers and budget to the North will help transform the region’s growth prospects and rebalance the economy. What we now need to see is the warm words on Northern growth translated into firm commitments to make this vision for a modern transport network a reality.”