To provide a steer on on the proposed direction and key components of the 2023/24 business plan.
Lead: Jonathan Brown / Tim Foster
4.1 In introducing the item, the Chair highlighted to the Board the Transport Select Committee’s report which was published in July and observed that he considered it to be a good report, one which he thought TfN can support. He explained to Members that the Government will have to provide a response to the Committee’s report, but that this is likely to be delayed due to the changes happening in Government.
4.2 Members received the report and the presentation from the Interim Policy and Programme Director who highlighted the key points in the presentation.
4.3 Members raised a number of issues and were keen that committed schemes should be started on site as soon as possible in order for the full economic benefits of NPR to begin to be realised.
4.4 Cllr Robinson emphasised the political consensus that exists on building in full the HS2 and the NPR schemes. He asked about the communications strategy of TfN on this matter in order to ensure that these pledges are included in future party manifestos, as well as stressing the importance of TfN continuing to make the case to DfT for TfN’s preferred network.
4.5 Mayor Driscoll stated that the core purpose of TfN is the economic prosperity of the North including inclusivity and environmental sustainability. He explained that economic growth would not be achieved if companies are unable to move their goods around and people are unable to travel and supported the need for commitment to a driver training academy in the North.
He highlighted the damage that train cancellations do to passenger confidence and the negative impact they have on the ability to grow the economy.
4.6 Cllr Edwards and Cllr Little raised the issue of the Golborne link and expressed their concern at its deletion without a suitable alternative being in place. They sought clarity from the DfT as to the current position in relation to appraising alternatives.
4.7 Mayor Burnham expressed the hope that the new Government’s commitment to delivering NPR in full will reinvigorate the Board. Greater Manchester will be hosting the Convention of the North in January 2023 and he believes that this will provide an opportunity to set out the big vision and the growth story around it. He also referred to the lack of a levelling up assessment from the previous Government when decisions were initially taken in respect of the Integrated Rail Plan.
4.8 In response to the issues that Members had raised Mr. Nick Bisson stated that the NPR Business Case needs to be refreshed following the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan. The supporting analysis has been commissioned from TfN and should be available by the end of the year. The Board was also assured that new Ministers are keen to engage.
On the issue of the Golborne Link he confirmed alternatives are being worked upon but he was unable to provide timelines and stated that he would return to Board on this. He also hoped that the Leeds – Sheffield Study Terms of Reference will be published soon.
1) That the Board welcomes the Transport Select Committee’s report
2) That the Board sets out to the Secretary of State its desire to work with her in responding to the Committee’s recommendations
3) That TfN seeks an early discussion with the new Government following commitments made during the summer to deliver NPR in full.