To consider the update on the development of infrastructure across the rail network in the North, and with it associated train service enhancements and changes.
Lead: Charlie French
6.1 Members received the report from the Investment Planning Manager who highlighted the key points.
6.2 The Head of Strategic Rail informed the Committee that an amendment to the report had been proposed by Warrington. He explained that whilst they recognise the work in Manchester they have suffered a reduction in connectivity and service opportunity and have suggested that the second recommendation should ‘note’ the successful delivery of Manchester and North West Transformation Programme Configuration State 1 infrastructure and implementation of the December 2022 timetable change rather than ‘welcome’ it. The Committee agreed this amendment.
6.3 The Rail and Road Director informed the Committee that this is a draft document and as there is awareness of the strong views around aspects of the report he anticipates the need for strengthening of some aspects of the report. He also recognised the fact that things have changed since the publication of the report.
6.4 Mayor Coppard highlighted the challenges experienced in South Yorkshire which should begin to improve when the Leeds Area Study work begins.
6.5 Lord McLoughlin requested more background as to why what was suggested in the 2014 through the Transport & Works Act Order was now no longer appropriate.
In response the investment Planning Manager explained that the 2014 Order covered what was known as ‘Package C’ which covered remodelling of Manchester Oxford Road, work on the corridor and Platforms 15 and 16 Manchester Piccadilly. It did not however take into consideration the improvements required around the corridor and subsequent work has found that much of the Manchester congestion stems from the routes that feed the corridor and therefore a broader package of works is required. He explained that as a revised scheme for Oxford Road has now been developed the previous order needs to be removed to allow the new scheme to go ahead
6.6 The Chair expressed his frustration that almost a decade has passed since the first submission which is not good news for the residents of the North of England.
He went on to express concern at the reference to a new baseline timetable which he views as a ‘reductionist new reality’ where the work was intended to allow an expanded timetable. He sought reassurance that this would not dilute the ambition and a timeline for the work to be completed and a plan to be outlined. He stated Greater Manchester’s view on Platforms 15 and 16, reiterating the point that they are required.
6.7 Cllr Hinchcliffe welcomed the approach that taskforce has taken and the work that has been done, as work taking place in Manchester benefits the whole of the North. Mayor Rotheram stated that the benefits to the whole of the North need to be teased out more.
Cllr Hinchcliffe then raised the issue of connectivity to Manchester Airport and asked that this be within the scoping for Configuration State 3.
6.8 The Chair requested clarity on the position of Stockport as congested infrastructure.
The Investment Planning Manager explained that the concern with Stockport is the limitations that may arise as HS2 services begin to run through that part of the network in the interim period between phase 2a and 2b being built, and there is an expectation that there will be too many trains travelling through that part of the infrastructure.
Mayor Coppard asks how the Hope Valley line plays into this scenario.
The Investment Planning Manager explained that there are a number of trains competing to get through that part of the network in order to get to Manchester Piccadilly and there is a likelihood that it will become over capacity.
Mayor Burnham asked for clarity on what the DfT definition of congested infrastructure and requested that this be addressed in the next report.
6.9 Richard George stated that the Sheffield problem cannot be resolved without additional capacity.
6.10 The Chief Executive stated that the Committee and TfN need to be planning for growth. On the issue of congested infrastructure he explained that the response too often is how can the timetable be cut to make it less congested; however, what TfN and the committee are stating is that there is a demand that needs to be accommodated and the congestion means investment is required rather than a limitation to cut the timetable. He added that this is an opportunity for TfN to put forward suggestions to make the system work better in advance of legislation on Great British Railways. The Chief Executive requested more time work on this further and report this back to the Committee in September before reporting to the September Board meeting.
1) That the Committee notes the progress of development of infrastructure schemes in the North, and the collaborative approach being undertaken by the industry working with partners and operators to drive the investment needed to support economic growth
2) That the Committee notes the successful delivery of Manchester and North West Transformation Programme Configuration State 1 infrastructure and implementation of the December 2022 timetable change
3) That the Committee welcomes the commitment from the Department for Transport to fund delivery of infrastructure in Configuration State 2 alongside the continued development of Configuration State 3
4) That the endorsement of Statutory Advice is deferred and that a further report is presented to the September Rail North Committee.