Agenda and minutes

Transport for the North Board - Wednesday, 27th September, 2023 10.30 am

Venue: Brigante Suite, Hilton Leeds City, Neville Street, Leeds, LS1 4BX

Contact: Gary Rich 


No. Item


Welcome & Apologies

The Chair to welcome Members and the public to the meeting.

Lead: Chair

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1.1          The Chair welcomed Members and apologies were noted from Cllrs Handley, West, Gannon, Miller, Lynn Williams, Mark Smith, Swinburn, Mitchell, David Willams and Pritchard as well as Rob McIntosh, Siobhan McArdle. 

The Chair extended a special welcome to the Mayor of London (Sadiq Khan) and Mr Robin Gisby (Chief Executive DOHL).  The Chair explained that this is a timely meeting given that things in relation to the future of HS2 are under consideration.  He suggested that the Board needs to be focused on what will bring the best benefit for the transport system across the North in support of realising the North’s potential.


Declarations of Interest

Members are required to declare any personal, prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interest they may have relating to items on the agenda and state the nature of such interest.

Lead: Chair

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2.1          There were no Declarations of Interest.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2023 (including updates on agreed matters as appropriate) and to consider the Quarterly Monitoring Report.

Lead: Chair

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3.1          The minutes of the meeting of the Transport for the North Board held on 22 June 2023 were considered.

3.2          Members received at the same time the written update on matters arising (Including a copy of the quarterly Operating Report) from the Chief Executive who suggested that the Board might wish to discuss the uncertainties associated with the future of the HS2 project.

3.3          The Chair thanked the Mayor of London for finding time to join the meeting. In introducing the Mayor the Chair highlighted the positive impact that the opening of the Elizabeth Line is having on London and the wider South East.

Mayor Khan commented that it was not sensible for the North to be reliant on what was essentially 19th Century rail infrastructure in the 21st Century.  He set out his full support of TfN in championing the need for HS2 and NPR ‘in full’.  He then shared his frustrations at the impact that the uncertainty associated with HS2 was having on London.   He set out the upheaval that has been caused in and around Euston where HS2 was due to terminate and explained that homes had been demolished and businesses destroyed by the works to date.  And yet now the rumour was that the project would terminate six miles west of central London at Old Oak Common. Additionally, he noted that if the HS2 project was scaled back it would result in trains taking longer to get to Birmingham than on the current West Coast Main Line.  He continued by highlighting the impact on London if latter phases of HS2 were to be curtailed.  He set out that London would no longer reap the benefits of greater connectivity and capacity between the North and the South.   

He informed Board that he has been inundated with calls from concerned businesses as a result of the uncertainties with the HS2 project and argued that this was a massive failure of public policy and squandering of taxpayers money if the rumours were proved to be true.  He emphasised that the success of North is crucial to London’s success and stated that he stood alongside the North’s Political leaders to form one voice in support of HS2.

3.4          Cllr Gittins presented her motion to the Board and in doing so she highlighted that the greatest strength of Board is that it speaks with one voice for the North, its residents and businesses.  She argued that for the North to benefit from the investment being made it was essential that Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and HS2 ‘in full’ were delivered together.  To illustrate the importance of both she highlighted the benefits of HS2 for Cheshire and Warrington alone, which was expected to realise an additional £2 billion GVA per annum, create 27,000 new job and enable delivery of 6 million square feet of new commercial floor space and 25,000 new homes in just this one area. She emphasised the importance of the leaders of the North all standing together, even  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Trans Pennine Trains: Next Steps pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Robin Gisby in attendance to present to the Board TransPennine Train’s proposals for the future of the franchise.

Lead: Darren Oldham, Mayor Burnham, Robin Gisby.


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4.1          Members received the covering report from the Head of Strategic Rail.

4.2          The Chair welcomed Mr Gisby to the meeting and invited him to provide an update on the current situation and the recovery plan for TPE.  Mr Gisby began by acknowledging that TPE is running its services on behalf of the passengers and communities they serve.  And whilst caring about levels of subsidy, revenue and costs they want to ensure that they are providing the best possible service.

He stated that the situation they inherited when taking control of TPE was difficult and several things which should not have happened need to be unpicked. He suggested that this may take some time and so requested patience whilst TPE stabilises the business.  

On the issue of industrial relations, he informed the Board that short term progress had been good but further work is required to improve these in order to reach a similar place as other operators.  This will be a focus for them over the next few months.

Mr Gisby explained that the focus of the business was on getting across the Pennines quickly.  He highlighted a number of issues that need to be addressed including serving local stations with TPE services that might be better served by other operators, complicated rolling stock diagrams and industrial relations.

With the regard to the plans from December 2023 he explained that they are modest but that after December, whilst they may be running fewer services initially, TPE was committed to growing the business and that they aspire to run more services in time.  

He suggested that TPE would be back to the pre-Covid position in the next 6 to 12 months.  He further stated that he wants to restore some services in December 2024 that have been dropped in December 2023.

On the situation with the Nova 3s, he expressed his view that these trains should not be running on this network.  He highlighted their lack of reliability and the difficulties in maintaining them, as well as the high financial and environmental costs that they have.

He continued, stating that he wants to rebuild TPE as an inter- urban service, connecting places across the Pennines and up to Scotland on the East and West Coast Main Lines.  He committed to reporting back to Board during 2024 on progress with the restoration of some services. He stated that he wanted to see TPE succeed and hoped TPE can catch up and overtake LNER. 

4.3          Following Mr Gisby’s update successive Members of the Board stated that they had been proved right that it was the right decision to move TPE into the Operator of Last Resort.  However, Members were concerned about the possibility of losing the Nova 3s including the impact this might have on available capacity, the perception that it would represent a backwards step in terms of rolling stock and the need to be satisfied that the alternatives would be acceptable.

In response to Members’ comments on the Nova 3s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Rail North Committee Update pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To consider the update following the Rail North Committee on 13 September; and receive an update on the Transpennine Express 100 day  plan.

Lead: Darren Oldham, Mayor Burnham, Robin Gisby.

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5.1          Members received the report from the Head of Strategic Rail.  The Rail and Road Director then outlined the key points from the Rail North Committee Consultation Call on 13 September.

5.2          Mayor Burnham (Chair of the Rail North Committee) provided the Board with an update on the matters discussed at the meeting. 

On the issue of proposals to close ticket offices, he stated that this remains huge concern for the Committee, with Members believing that the proposals and consultations are flawed. He explained that the Committee is not against reform but the proposal for reform has to be based on the principle that there will be no loss of staff and no reduction in the support provided for passengers.  He also expressed concern that under the proposals too many stations would be deserted for large parts of the day, citing this as further evidence of ‘managed decline.’

He then updated Board on the work of the Committee in looking at accessibility of stations across the North: he encouraged Board Members to look at the Committee papers if they haven’t already done so.  He highlighted some of the major issues in the report including the number of stations without desirable step free access and/or induction loops.  He stated that the Committee was concerned that the railways do not see removing all accessibility issues as a priority issue.  He informed the Board that a Member taskforce has been established to look at these issues and that it will report back regularly to the Committee on progress.

Mayor Burnham requested that a discussion on disability access be brought to the TfN Board in the near future.

5.3          Cllr Gittins raised the issue of women and safety on the railways and questioned whether concerns about safety are putting women off using trains.  She requested a further discussion on this at  Board in due course.

5.4          Mayor Brabin stated that taking ticket offices away at this time makes no sense with the disruption that will be caused by the work taking place on the Transpennine Route upgrade (TRU).  She argued that this will be a time, more so than ever before, when people will need to have access to staff on stations.  She then raised the issue of congestion in the West Yorkshire area and requested that TfN look at these pinch points and that this be included in the next statutory advice.

5.5          Cllr Hughes and Cllr Smith both spoke about the importance of, and the need for ticket offices to remain open.  Cllr Smith stated that he considered there needs to be an increase in the number of ticket offices.

5.6          Mr Rawstron highlighted that when you exclude people from purchasing tickets you drive down revenue and therefore make travelling uneconomic.  He suggested the need to promote additionality on the railways in order to drive revenue.  He then went on to highlight the importance of ticket offices in supporting visitor economy, in particular noting the need for people who don’t speak English  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Strategic Transport Plan Update pdf icon PDF 154 KB

To receive a summary of the key issues arising from the consultation on the draft Strategic Transport Plan.

Lead: Katie Day/Lucy Jacques

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6.1          Members received the report of the Principal Policy & Strategy Development Officer. The Director of Strategy, Analysis and Communications thanked Members and their teams for their continued support and input.  She then outlined the key points of the report and looked to Members for a steer on four specific areas associated with the STP: these were the strategic outcomes, the right share and vision zero metrics, the potential amendments identified post the consultation and potential new areas of work.

6.2          Cllr Gittins requested greater ambition in terms of the Vision Zero metric and would like an earlier date than 2050 to be set if possible.  The desire for a more ambitious vision zero was supported by other Members of Board. 

6.3          Mayor Brabin welcomed inclusion of light rail within the amendments proposed. Cllr Hughes requested that TfN also consider light rail in rural areas as this could help reduce congestion on roads and within town centres.

6.4          Mr Rawstron was pleased to see the recognition of the challenges faced by rural areas and the emphasis on freight and logistics included within the Plan. On the right share metrics, he expressed his concern that Board is signing up to a net zero overall regional increase in private car mileage and he was concerned that this might act as a restriction on parts of the North.

6.5          On Mr Rawstron’s point on the right share metric for private car mileage, the Director of Strategy, Analysis and Communications proposed a further conversation on this offline.  On the metrics more generally, she stated that as regional values they offered the ability for variation across to reflect the local circumstances: the key role of the STP is about the cumulative impact/progress across the region.


1)   That Board notes the outcomes from the statutory consultation, summarised in section 3, and the detail provided in Appendix 1;

2)   That Board’s comments on the STP are noted and that they will guide its revision post consultation;

3)   That the arrangements for finalising the STP ahead of TfN Board in December are noted.


Annual Governance Statement and Accounts pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To consider and approve the Annual Governance Statement and 2022/23 accounts.

Lead: Paul Kelly, Graham Bell

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7.1          Members received the report of the Finance Director who outlined the key elements in his report. He highlighted to the Board that as in previous years, sign off the accounts by the auditors will not be possible until the Greater Manchester Pension Fund had itself been signed off. He anticipated that these will be signed off in October and proposed that the accounts be approved subject to the sign-off of the Pension Fund.

7.2          The Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee Mr Graham Bell then presented the Committee’s Annual Report to Board and highlighted the key areas of this report.

7.3          Mayor Brabin highlighted that a number of red RAG ratings appeared in the risk register and requested an informed discussion about how TfN was addressing these going forward. 


1)   That Board approves Transport for the North’s Annual Governance Statement and Statement of Accounts for financial year 2022/23, subject to the sign-off of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

2)   That the Board notes that the report is supported by an appended report from Transport for the North’s independent external auditor that provides an unqualified, clean opinion.

3)   That the report should also be considered alongside the Annual Report from the Chair of the Audit & Governance Committee which recommends approval of the Accounts.


Governance Update pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To consider the update on a number of governance issues.

Lead: Julie Openshaw

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8.1          Members received the report from the Head of Legal.


1)   That Ms Jo Reed and Mr Richard Thomas be appointed as Independent Members and co-opted onto Audit and Governance Committee for a period of 3 years.

2)   That Board notes the work commenced by General Purposes Committee to consider future development of the Constitution, and notes that recommendations will be presented to Board in due course.


Corporate Risk Register and Risk Management Strategy Report pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To consider the corporate risk register.

Lead: Paul Kelly

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9.1          Board received the report from the Finance Director.


That Board notes TfN’s corporate risks and the updates to the Risk Management Strategy in relation to reporting changes and inclusion of the TfN - Three Lines of defence assurance model.



Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on 14 December 2023 10.30am -1pm Holiday Inn Manchester.

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Thursday 14 December 2023


Holiday Inn Manchester