Regional transport leaders at the North East Joint Transport Committee have welcomed a visit from Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive of Transport for the North (TfN), England’s first Sub-national Transport Body to the North East for the first time since his appointment in August.
Mr Tugwell joined the JTC at its meeting on 16 November, shortly after visiting a number of key parts of the North East transport network including Newcastle Central Station – a key rail gateway to the region and the Tyne and Wear Metro Control Room in South Gosforth where he received an update on the new Metro fleet - set to come into operation in 2023 - and Metro Flow, a dual track project which will improve reliability and deliver capacity for an extra 24,000 passengers a day.
During the visit Mr Tugwell also had the opportunity to see the new Tyne Pass project in operation at the Tyne Tunnels; a new barrierless open-road tolling scheme which came into effect earlier this month, new Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure at the Angel of the North, as well as a visit to the Leamside Line – the disused railway line which the North East is leading a campaign to reopen ahead of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and High Speed 2 (HS2).
TfN brings the North’s Local Transport Authorities and business leaders together, enabling the region to speak with one voice on the transport infrastructure investment needed to drive transformational growth and rebalance the UK economy. Its vision is of a thriving North of England, where world class transport supports sustainable economic growth, excellent quality of life and improved opportunities for all.
TfN works with Network Rail, Highways England, and HS2 Ltd, and as a statutory partner to the Department for Transport, its recommendations are formally considered by Government when important transport decisions about the North are being taken.
Launched at TfN’s Annual Conference in September, the Northern Transport Charter sets out a road map towards further long-term devolution to the North of transport related powers. These proposals are grouped around four key ambitions:
• Championing an inclusive and sustainable North
• A long-term Northern funding settlement (Northern Budget)
• Leading strategic transport delivery
• Putting rail passengers first
The Charter sets out how the people living and working in the North of England, as represented by the business and political leaders on the TfN Board are best-placed to know what is in the long-term interests of the region.
At its heart, the NTC sets out evidence-based arguments for devolution to the regional level of long-term strategic transport investment funding and decision-making powers. It is not in itself primarily an argument for increased investment, but rather makes the case for empowering the North’s Leaders to exercise strategic leadership and ensure investment reflects the North’s agreed priorities.
Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said: “Levelling up is about doing things differently in order to realise the economic potential of the North: it is also about making a step change in terms of investment in our transport system.
“Our Northern Transport Charter sets out our offer to Government that by working together, we can provide the leadership that will enable us to unlock the North’s economic potential.
“With further devolution and control over investment and policy decisions, we can work to close the North-South divide and make real the levelling up agenda in a green accessible and sustainable way: with it we can build a truly new north of England to the benefit of our existing communities and for the generations to come.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “It is a pleasure to welcome Martin to the region on behalf of the North East Joint Transport Committee and hear more about the Northern Transport Charter and the Strategic Transport Plan.
“Our region works closely with Transport for the North, ensuring the Government fully understands the transport ambitions of the North East, working together to outline funding and commitments required to achieve our strategic transport goals. Martin got to see first-hand some of the key transport projects our region is delivering as we work to achieve our vision of moving to a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving north east.”
North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll, said: “To truly understand something you need to see it with you own eyes. And when it comes to understanding the connectivity between Northern cities, there's no substitute for travelling. Since Martin’s first day he has been keen to journey across the whole of the North.
“Good transport means reliable journeys, less stress and healthier living. It’s key to achieving economic prosperity. We’re stronger when we work together and I value the close working relationship we have with Transport for the North.”