Transport for the North (TfN) has reacted to Integrated Rail Plan updates from the government by highlighting the need for speedy delivery of rail infrastructure in the region.
Barry White, Chief Executive of the sub-regional transport body, described the government’s decision to make delivery of infrastructure benefits to the north a part of the rail investment plan as “positive,” but that there must be focus on “delivering the maximum economic, social and environmental benefits” for communities in the area.
It comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) provided further updates on its plans for an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and the Midlands.
Within this are further details to the Prime Minister’s statement, during which he revealed that an integrated plan would be informed by an assessment by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) into rail investment, with schemes including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) taken into account.
The terms of reference include an update that Phase 2b of HS2 – which will go ahead as per the Oakervee Review’s recommendations and the Prime Minister’s decision – could be legislated into two hybrid bills that may run concurrently.
The terms also reveal the NIC’s assessment will look at four key considerations that include integration; cost reduction; delivery models and governance; and connectivity to Scotland.
NIC will look at “value for money, levelling up, affordability and deliverability” within its assessment of the Integrated Rail Plan.
And TfN’s Chief Executive, Barry White, commented: “The Integrated Rail Plan will look at how best to dovetail schemes like HS2 and Network Rail’s enhancements, alongside the much-needed NPR.
“That work must be focused on delivering the maximum economic, social and environmental benefits for the North’s communities.
“Exploring efficiencies can’t be shorthand for cutting ambition. We also need to ensure that the voice of the North is heard loud and clear in determining how and when this work should take place.
“We’re discussing the next steps with our northern leaders and look forward to working with the government and the NIC to deliver on the joint goal of unleashing prosperity through infrastructure.
“The sooner we start delivering these improvements, the sooner passengers will get the modern rail services they deserve.”