4.1 Members received the report, presentation and position update from the Northern Powerhouse Rail Director and Interim Strategy and Programme Director.
The Interim Strategy and Programme Director provided an overview of the implications the IRP will have on connectivity and the economy and the NPR Director updated Members on the implications of IRP for NPR and the preferred network.
4.2 Members expressed their anger and disappointment with the Integrated Rail Plan and questioned the Government’s commitment to levelling up the North of England. Members explained the impact that the IRP will have on the communities they represent in particular noting how the IRP proposals failed to deliver the step change in connectivity that was required to realise the North’s economic potential.
4.3 Whilst the proposals in the IRP have implications for the majority of Constituent Authorities, Members were particularly keen to highlight the adverse effects that it will have in West Yorkshire, with no new station in Bradford and the consequent impact this will have on the economy of the area and for the people of Bradford. Mayor Brabin was particularly concerned that the failure to include the Board’s proposal for a new line connecting Manchester, Bradford and Leeds was a missed opportunity that would constrain opportunities across West Yorkshire and beyond
Members were also concerned that the IRP proposals missed opportunities to deliver the step-change in access to/from Hull, the North East and South Yorkshire, all of which had been integral to the network-based approach that underpinned the Board’s proposal for NPR. Mayor Jarvis was concerned about the lack of certainty regarding connectivity to/from Sheffield arising from the IRP proposals, whilst Cllrs Heather Scott and Darren Hale both highlighted the failure of the IRP to properly reflect the need for improved access to the freeports in their areas.
4.4 Cllrs Mackenzie and Swinburn highlighted some benefits that the IRP brings to the North for their respective areas including reduce journey times across the country for North Yorkshire.
4.5 All Members expressed concern as to the changed role that Transport for the North would play as the IRP proposals were taken forward. Members highlighted how TfN had played a key role in the development of the Board’s preferred proposal, in particular challenging costs. Members sought clarity as to what the change from Co-client to Co-sponsor would mean for the organisation.
On this issue Cllr Edwards urged the Co-sponsor role to be defined.
Mr. Nick Bisson stated that the Department recognised the need to work with TfN to define the co-sponsor role.
4.6 In tabling a Motion to the meeting, Mayor Burnham explained that as a Board the priority was about achieving a step-change in connectivity: both East – West and North-South. He highlighted that what the IRP proposals offer in terms of this connectivity is not good enough and he proposed that the Board should continue to press the need for a better deal. He explained that the proposals in the IRP failed the three key tests of additional capacity, improved connectivity, and minimizing disruption.
Mayor Burnham argued that the Board should continue to make the case for the longer-term ambition that underpins the Board’s preferred approach. He suggested that the Board should explore, with the Secretary of State, opportunities to secure additional, local contributions towards the cost of the Board’s preferred approach. He explained that land value capture might be one option in this regards that could potentially be captured to be used as contributing funding.
4.7 Responding to Members’ concerns Mr. Nick Bisson reflected on some of the points raised by Members including the issue of timing of delivery, the £200 million funding identified in relation to the Leeds to Sheffield study and mass transit, the improvements in Liverpool journey times, the benefit of the Crewe North connection and issues relating to the North East and South Yorkshire.
Additionally, in responding to Members concerns that certain areas had been struck out of the IRP Mr. Bisson explained that this is just a start of the programme and there is a potential that more investment may follow.
In response, Mayor Rotheram requested that the evidence base behind the IRP be published as a matter of urgency so that a full assessment could be completed.
4.8 Mayor Burnham requested clarity from the Chief Executive on the Board endorsing TfN’s role as Co-sponsor at the January 2021 Board meeting.
The Chief Executive confirmed that a discussion was had on the options and variety on the potential mechanisms, but the Board had not resolved that co-sponsorship was the preferred way forward.
4.9 Members unanimously agreed the following motion:
This Board notes:
· The publication of the Government's Integrated Rail Plan and the announcement of associated investment;
· That the proposals breach the commitments Government had previously made on Northern Powerhouse Rail, and differ from this Board’s preferred option, as set out in statutory advice to the Department for Transport.
This Board recognises:
· That the Government acknowledges connectivity East to West is not only about speed but capacity and connection between towns as well as cities;
· That in failing to deal with the infrastructure constraints, particularly around Leeds and Manchester, the plan is the wrong solution for the whole of the North and does not deliver the long-term transformation required to level up the North’s economy;
· That the proposals would present significant operational performance risks with intercity, regional, local, and freight services competing for capacity on critical sections of shared infrastructure across the North;
· That TfN’s preferred option for Northern Powerhouse Rail would provide up to 12 fast trains per hour between Leeds and Manchester, compared to 8 through the upgrade option in the Integrated Rail Plan;
· That disruption caused to passengers, freight and the economy by upgrading lines is likely to be more significant than for the construction of new lines;
· That Bradford is the seventh largest local authority area in England by population and its residents currently have no direct rail access to Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Hull or Manchester Airport?;
· The importance of Liverpool as a key destination for business and tourism and the insufficient capacity at Liverpool Lime Street Station to support the desired levels of service;
· That the re-opening of the mothballed Leamside line (TfN’s preferred option for NPR) would remove the current constraints of six trains per hour on the East Coast Main Line
· The importance of improving connectivity on strategic corridors between Sheffield and Leeds; Sheffield and Manchester; Sheffield and Hull, and Leeds and Hull.
· That there is a need to ensure the city of Hull and East Riding are reconnected to the Transpennine mainline and plans for electrification are reinstated as part of improved East West decarbonised freight and passenger connectivity.
4.10 The views and opinions of elected Members were echoed by LEP Members of the Board who also unanimously supported the tabled motion.
4.11 The Chair thanked all Members: she reflected that it was clear from the debate the depth and strength of feelings across the North in response to the publication of the IRP.
1) That the Chair of Transport for the North writes to the Secretary of State for Transport asking him to explore with Transport for the North funding options for the delivery of the preferred Northern Powerhouse Rail. Funding options could include local contributions, including through harnessing local economic benefits.
2) That the Chief Executive of Transport for the North prepares a report to the Board on the impact the Integrated Rail Plan will have on the North’s economic and decarbonisation ambitions.