To receive an update on progress with the TransPennine project and note the Board’s role in supporting its delivery
Lead: James Syson / David Hoggarth
5.1 Members received the report from the Investment Sponsor Manager and the presentation from Mr. Neil Holm and Mr. John Read who explained the current position regarding the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU).
5.2 The Chair set out the importance ofTfN being re-instated onto Programme Board and added that this request will be made again at the meeting with the new Secretary of State. He raised the issue of closures in order to undertake work and stressed the importance of giving the public adequate knowledge of them and reasons for the work.
5.3 Cllr Robinson sought clarity on additional freight capacity and enquired as to whether W12 gauge clearance will be available. He also raised the issue of communication when the works are taking place and stressed the importance of communicating across the country that the North is still open for business despite the work taking place.
5.4 Mr. Peter Kennan highlighted that some of the diversionary routes have capacity issues and requested that communication on this work needs to be at a regional level in order that constituent authorities can communicate with their travelling public over any disruption.
5.5 Cllr Edwards suggested that first recommendation in the report should ‘welcome’ the DfT’s funding announcement trebling investment in TRU rather than ‘noting’ it.
5.6 Mayor Burnham sought clarity on what Northern Powerhouse Rail means for TRU as currently the extent of NPR is uncertain in light of commitments made during the summer. He also raised the issue of the timeline and full benefit realisation and was open to further discussions on what can be done to accelerate progress with delivery of the project.
5.7 The Chair stated that there is a growing view in the industry that extended blockades in order to undertake work (as opposed to overnight/weekend working) are the quickest way for projects to progress.
5.8 Mr. Nick Bisson explained that TRU can be looked it in three phases; firstly, Marsden to Huddersfield with much of this phase having wider benefits particularly for freight outputs; secondly, Leeds to York, and thirdly Ravensthorpe to Leeds which is the phase needing the most development and design work.
5.9 In response to Members’ questions and comments Mr. Holm confirmed that they have a requirement to design and develop a scheme for W12 gauge. On the issue of communication, he explained that there is a PR campaign currently running in order to gain engagement and advocacy for the programme. He also stated that there would be communication around planned disruption two to three months prior to work starting and once the work has started there would be customer service support staff available.
Regarding the timelines of the project, he explained that work is taking place with the train operators and would welcome a conversation on ways programme can be accelerated.
Mayor Burnham asked for information to come back to the Board with options for acceleration.
1) That the Board welcomes the Department for Transport (DfT) funding announcement trebling investment in TRU.
2) That the Board notes the National Audit Office (NAO) TRU report which has identified a clear case for investment but recognises significant risks to the programme’s progress that could cause further disruption if the DfT, Network Rail and the Government fail to work together to manage challenges and deliver the expected benefits for rail users.
3) That Board welcomes the establishment of the TRU Stakeholder Forum which is Chaired by TfN, but stresses the importance of TfN being a member of the TRU Programme Board.