Agenda and draft minutes

Transport for the North Board - Wednesday, 20th March, 2024 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

Additional documents:


1.1          The Chairman welcomed Members and apologies were noted from Mayor Driscoll, Cllrs Kemp, Renwick, Wharmby and David Williams as well as Helen Simpson and Alexandra Batey.


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

Additional documents:


2.1          There were no Declarations of Interest.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 14 December 2023 and to consider the matters arising update and the Quarterly Operating Report.

Lead: Chair and Martin Tugwell

Additional documents:


3.1              The minutes of the meeting of the Transport for the North Board held on 14 December 2023 were considered.

3.2          Members received a written update on matters arising including a copy of the Quarterly Operating Report from the Chief Executive. He highlighted the success of the TfN Conference in Liverpool, and that the intention is to go to York for the 2025 event.

3.3          He also highlighted the commitment given by the Rail Minster at the TfN conference on the extension of the Midland Main Line electrification through to Sheffield. He explained that TfN may be approached by colleagues in the Midlands for support on the business case for the scheme; if this happens, he advised that TfN would support this. 

3.4          He informed the Board about the positive news on the A66 dual carriageway upgrade. Mr Richard Leonard provided further detail, explaining that approval for the Development Consent Order (DCO) to proceed with the works has been given. The window for challenges against the decision lasts until the end of April; if there is no legal challenge then the work can proceed.  Some preparatory work is taking place pending the outcome. Additionally, approval to submit the DCO for the Simister Island interchange in North Manchester has also been given: a scheme that has been previously identified as a pan-regional priority.

3.5           On the issue of diversity raised at previous meetings the Chief Executive stated that he had met with the Chair and Vice Chairs to discuss this and referred Members to the note in his update. In addition, he highlighted how the voice of young people at the Convention of the North had brought an energy and a different focus to the conversation. He is keen to build on the momentum and has asked the Director of Strategy Analysis and Communications to examine this further in the context of how TfN might do something similar. 

3.6          Mayor Brabin supported the update on diversity, commenting that the Board needs to ensure it reflects the views of the communities Members serve. She sought reassurance that lived experience is as important as data; the Chief Executive provided this reassurance.

3.7          On the matter of the A66 Cllr Hughes commented that whilst the A66 dualling has positives, parking issues need to be resolved in towns such as Keswick and Penrith.

3.8          Responding to a question raised by Cllr Hughes, Mayor Brabin commented that the Citizens UK partnership (involved in the Convention of the North) is a separate organisation, and her team would need to check what involvement had been from the Cumbrian perspective and return to Cllr Hughes on this. 

3.9          The Director of Strategy, Analysis and Communication provided an update on the Northern Transport Voices panel, explaining that this is a representative panel of communities across the North, and it is the intention to grow it from 600 to 2,000 individuals over the next year. She also noted that TfN hopes to establish the aforementioned stakeholder/community panel over the next  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Avanti West Coast Performance pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To consider the referral of the Rail North Committee to discuss and agree what actions are appropriate to secure improved performance.

Lead: Steve Montgomery (First) andDarren Oldham

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4.1          The Chair welcomed Mr Steve Montgomery to the meeting and thanked him for his attendance. In introducing the item, he highlighted the deep concerns of Board Members on the performance of services on the West Coast Mainline.

4.2          Mr Montgomery stated that Avanti West Coast has experienced a number of issues and apologised for the inconvenience caused to customers and stakeholders. He recognised that service levels have fallen below the levels that customers might reasonably expect.

4.3          He explained that this arises from a number of complex issues. He highlighted that since October 2023 the number of Avanti caused cancellations has grown and was approximately 7% in the last period. He attributed this to national disputes, as well as the removal of rest day working agreement at Avanti which has impacted on driver training and the business. This in turn has impacted on delivery of services on certain days of the week, with Saturdays proving a particularly difficult day.

4.4          In order to address the issues Avanti has been working with the Trade Unions and extra resources have been provided from First Group, but they have had difficulty with the lack of flexibility. He explained that they are working closely with ASLEF to establish more cooperation and have now secured a new rest day working agreement.

4.5          He informed Board that Avanti is now starting to take delivery of a new fleet of trains and has begun to train drivers, which has caused some additional pressures. The rest day working agreement will allow faster training leading to the introduction of these trains in the summer.

4.6          He stated he will seek to improve communications with the North and wants to meet regularly with Northern leaders.

4.7          Mr Andy Mellors provided an update on the second hourly service to Liverpool. He stated that the new trains will help enable this to be delivered but noted that this would only happen once there is the operational resilience to do so.

4.8          Cllr Gittins expressed her frustration that the Cheshire and Warrington areas are not seeing improvements to services, which has been the case for the last 18 months. She commented that she is unable to see how things will improve in the short and medium term and expressed concern at the impact that an additional service to Liverpool will have on the North Wales line. 

4.9          Mr Montgomery apologised for the disruption in services along the North Wales main line to/from Chester. He explained that the restoration of the rest day working agreement and training of three new drivers in the Holyhead area will help make services in the area more reliable at the beginning of April.

4.10       Ms Clare Hayward stated her belief that Avanti has lost the trust and confidence of the business community which is impacting on the ability of businesses to deliver for their customers. She also observed that from her experience of travelling extensively on Avanti there is a lack of trust amongst Avanti’s employees towards  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Transforming the North: Strategic Transport Plan Approval and Adoption pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To approve and adopt the revised Strategic Transport Plan

Lead: Katie Day

Additional documents:


5.1          The Chair thanked the Director of Strategy, Analysis and Communications and her team for all their work on getting the final version of the STP to the position where it could be presented to the Board for its approval and adoption.

5.2          Members received the report from the Director of Strategy, Analysis and Communications who then outlined the key aspects of her report, including that final proof-reading was taking place and the proposal to add an explicit reference regarding support for an underground station at Manchester Piccadilly: the latter reflecting previously adopted TfN Board position in respect of NPR.

5.3          Cllr Gittins was pleased that the STP views the North as a whole, as well as on a place base level, and emphasised the importance of this. She was also glad to see a recognition of the scale of the challenge and the inclusion of short-term goals and emphasised the importance of using the STP to make progress at pace. 

5.4          Cllr Hunt welcomed the inclusion of reference to the potential for tram-train. He explained that South Yorkshire wants to expand the super tram network and views tram-train as central to this.

5.5          Mayor Brabin stressed the necessity to be mindful about the present as well as looking to the future. She emphasised the importance of the T-shaped station being built in Leeds, without which, she believes, there will not be a “fit for purpose” network across the North that will allow the ambitions in the plan to be realised. She also stated that insurers are now no longer insuring car clubs, so this reference within the final Plan may need to be looked at.

5.6          Mayor Burnham made specific reference to the importance of referencing the underground station at Manchester Piccadilly, on the new line from Manchester to Liverpool via Warrington. He emphasised the importance of this for resilience not just for Manchester, but for the wider rail network across the North.

5.7          He also suggested that TfN capture the “bottom up” place base approach to transport planning, where the infrastructure supports what is sought to be achieved and where political voices, business voices and other stakeholders are all involved. He believes this approach will underpin all the ambitions in the STP.

5.8          The Chair highlighted the importance of the station areas and how transformational they are and agreed with both Mayor Brabin and Mayor Burnham on the importance of the T-shaped station in Leeds and the underground station in Manchester.

5.9          Cllr Rollo was pleased that the plan recognises the challenges facing rural areas and the need to improve accessibility in these areas.

5.10       Ms Hayward stressed the importance of continued engagement with business following the adoption of the STP and welcomed the commitment for this to continue to be enhanced.

5.11       Mr McIntosh in responding to the comments about stations, supported the emphasis being given to their importance and of the railway companies seeing stations as belonging to their communities and economies. He commented that over  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Approval of the 2023 Accounts pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To approve the 2023 Accounts

Lead: Paul Kelly

Additional documents:


6.1          Members received the report from the Finance Director who highlighted the key points within the report.



1)   That Board notes the intention of Transport for the North’s independent external auditor to provide an unqualified, clean audit opinion.


2)   That Board notes the recommendation of the Audit & Governance Committee to approve the Statement of Accounts for 2022/23.


3)   That Board approve the Statement of Accounts for financial year 2022/23.



Budget and Business Plan 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 213 KB

To consider and approve the Business Plan and Budget

Lead: Martin Tugwell/Paul Kelly

Additional documents:


7.1          Members received the report of the Finance Director. The Chief Executive then highlighted the key aspects of the report.

7.2          Mayor Brabin commented on the Transport Levy and the challenge facing local authorities and highlighted the increase in core funding assumed as part of the medium-term financial plan.  She questioned how the gap is to be filled and enquired if she can return to her constituent authorities and inform them that the money is going to be put to good use in pursuing projects.

7.3          The Chief Executive explained that the funding available for the core budget and for work commissioned in support of NPR is agreed with the Department for 2024-25 (it forms the second year of the 2-year settlement awarded last year). The increase shown in core funding beyond 2024-25 included within the Budget will form the basis of discussions with the Department over the summer and into the autumn. In this regard the report centres upon TfN setting out what it believes is required from Government in order to support the continuation of activities. He explained that this is a conversation that needs to be had with the Department as part of the planning for the spending review.

7.4          Ms Hayward stated that when looking at the Northern Evidence Network it is critical to bring all the data together to analyse at a Northern and regional level. 



1)   That Board notes the draft Business Plan for 2024/25 and Members comments.


2)   That Board approves the draft Business Plan and delegates authority to the Chair and Chief Executive of Transport for the North to undertake the steps required to finalise the Business Plan.


3)   That the forecasted outturn for 2023/24 and the projected closing reserves as of 31 March 2024 is £3.6m be noted.


4)   That the proposed use of reserves of £1.3m in 2024/25 be approved.


5)   That the budget for 2024/25 be approved.



Corporate Risk Register and Risk Management Strategy pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To consider and agree the updated Corporate Risk Register

Lead: Paul Kelly

Additional documents:


8.1          Members received the report of the Risk Manager, and the report was taken as read. 

8.2          Cllr Hughes asked if TfN is fully prepared should HS2 up to the North be re-instated as originally proposed.

8.3          Mayor Brabin highlighted the changing landscape of transport and the role of Great British Rail. She stated that one of the biggest risks to TfN is the original purpose of the organisation becoming redundant as the transport landscape changes and believes that this should be included within the risk register.

8.4          Mayor Burnham, whilst agreeing the transport landscape is changing, highlighted the important, and continuing, work that TfN has done over the years including keeping guards on trains, saving the ticket offices and bringing Northern and TPE into the Operator of Last Resort. He believes that TfN will continue to evolve in its role, potentially moving away from its current advocacy role and more into an adjudicatory one over the next decade.  

8.5          The Chief Executive responded noting that the Risk register makes explicit reference to the monitoring of the political environment particularly in the context of a general election and the implications for TfN’s objectives. He noted the way the Board worked together recently on a pan-regional level to highlight the strategic importance of the link from Manchester to Newcastle as a further example of the added value of TfN.

8.6          He highlighted the evolution of the organisation during his time as Chief Executive and how that reflects the growth in the role of the Metro Mayors and the focus given to TfN’s priorities in terms of adding value at the pan-regional level. In that regard he proffered the view that the Business Plan reflects the priorities of the Board as a whole. He stated TfN is aware of the risks and how the position is evolving. He wishes to work with the Board over the next year in order to ensure TfN stays focused on what is relevant to Board at a pan-regional level whilst supporting and complementing work at a city regional level.


That Board notes TfN’s corporate risks and risk management activity over the last 6 months.



Governance Update pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To consider and agree the recommendations of the General Purposes Committee on business representation on TfN

Lead: Julie Openshaw

Additional documents:


9.1          Members received the report from the Head of Legal which was taken as read. Members were then invited to ask questions and make comments.

9.2          Mayor Rotheram referenced that the governance structure allows for representation of Trade Unions and suggested that following on from having senior officers from Avanti attend to answer questions from Members something similar could be done for the Trade Unions.

9.3          Ms Hayward highlighted the importance of TfN retaining a strong business voice particularly with the change in structure to the LEPs by the end of March. She requested that TfN continue to engage with the Business Advisory Boards and that the governance is made more specific to reflect this.

9.4          Mr Rawstron suggested that a review be undertaken on the need to co-opt a business advisory body on to the Board.

9.5          The Director of Strategy, Analysis and Communication stated that over the last six months TfN has stepped up its business engagement and has re-engaged with many business representative bodies to ensure the business voice at Board remains protected. She added that the executive will look to do some further work directly with business bodies, picking up the trade union representation and direct engagement with transport providers and freight operators. Plans are currently being scoped out and she suggested returning to Board with a further update in June.

9.6          The Chair expressed his eagerness to engage with relevant businesses including industries such as the airports, ports and logistics businesses. He suggested speaking to them about investments and apprenticeships with TfN being a voice for them.



1)   That Board reaffirms the co-option of representation from the business community on the Board and Partnership Board


2)   That Board agrees that where a LEP continues in a modified form it shall continue to nominate a co-opted non-voting representative on TfN’s Board and Partnership Board


3)   That Board agrees that where the responsibilities of a LEP have been subsumed into Business Boards within their Constituent Authority, that Authority is invited to nominate a business representative from that Business Board to be co-opted on to TfN’s Board and Partnership Board


4)   That Board agrees that the arrangements for business representation on the Board are reviewed by the General Purposes Committee after 12 months


5)   That the changes to the Constituent Authority membership of Transport for the North and the effective dates for those changes be noted, and that the consequential changes to Constitution will be made under officer delegated authority at the appropriate time be noted.



Department for Transport National Bus Strategy pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To receive an update on the National Bus Strategy from DfT, and to identify key issues for TfN to include in its future advice to the Secretary of State.

Lead: Stephen Fidler (DfT) and Kirsten Keen

Additional documents:


10.1       The Chair welcomed Mr Stephen Fidler, Co-Director of Local Transport at the Department for Transport, to the meeting to address the Board on buses. He highlighted the work that is being done to seek to improve services that is being led by Mayors Burnham, Brabin, Rotheram and Coppard. Whilst acknowledging the fact that much of Board’s business often relates to rail issues, he highlighted the important role that buses play in mobility of people.

10.2       Members received the presentation from Mr Fidler who then highlighted the salient points of his presentation. Before Members asked questions, the Senior Strategy and Planning Officer then highlighted the key points of her report.

10.3       Members raised a variety of points on this matter with the key theme raised by all Members relating to the lack of funding to provide the services required.

10.4       Cllr Gannon highlighted the importance of buses to people in the North East, explaining that the issues with the buses is due to lack of funding rather than lack of policy direction or ambition. He informed Board that there has been a decline in bus mileage of around 30% since 2010 in the North East, North West and Yorkshire. He stated that the bus operators are struggling and whilst Bus Services Operators Grant (BSOG) funding has been extended, prior to the extension operators were informing the local authorities of 30% reductions in services.   

10.5       When the National Bus Strategy was first published, the North East made an ambitious bid to increase bus usage by 5% and in order to achieve this they bid for £804 million to prevent the decline and increase usage. They received £168 million, but this funding is insufficient to achieve the goal.

10.6       Cllr Rollo explained that the funding issues make it difficult to plan for the future and make services resilient. As an area they are restricted by what they can do due to having only one operator who tells the local authority what they can do, rather than the other way around. When the authority wanted to apply for “Zebra 2” funding they were unable to do so as the operator would not support the bid. She requested support from the DfT on this. She then stated that they were unable to set up their own bus company although this would be beneficial for her community.

10.7       Cllr Mundry requested that municipal bus companies be considered as an option to be included in the choices available to authorities as an alternative to franchising.

10.8       Cllr Hughes asked if there has been any movement on discrete funding for post-16 home to school/college funding.

10.9       Mayor Burnham stated that Greater Manchester would be happy to share its experiences with Members of the Board. On the issue of franchising he informed Board that TfGM’s experience showed that franchising per km is being priced at one third less expensive than the former tendered contracts. He also suggested that franchising is better value for public money. He urged that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Rail Reform Pre Bill Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To consider and agree TfN’s submission to the Transport Select Committee pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill

Lead: Alex Woodall

Additional documents:


11.1       Members received the report of the Rail Reform Advisor which was taken as read.


That the Board approves the submission to the Transport Select Committee.



Rail North Committee Update pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To note the update from the Rail North Committee

Lead: Darren Oldham

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12.1       Members received the report of the Rail and Road Director. The Chief Executive emphasised the work of the Committee with regards to improving accessibility at stations and the focus on the committee having a programme to address this. 


That Board notes the feedback from the RNC including the initial output from the Accessibility Task and Finish Group, and progress made by TransPennine Express on their recovery plan.



Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday June 18 at 10.30am.

Additional documents:


Tuesday 18 June at 10.30 in Liverpool.