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“The intention is that this strategy demonstrates not just to the DfT, but to a wider set of stakeholders, including other local transport authorities within the north of England, that there is a strategy developed by working with all the stakeholders that has been consensually agreed by them.”


The transport authorities representing Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire

and South

Yorkshire were the original commissioners of the report, but Merseytravel and Nexus are now part of the governance structure too. “All five of the PTEs/ITAs are at the top table,” Mackay said.

But as a report this summer to the West Yorkshire ITA, discussing the genesis of the co- operation between the transport authorities, noted: “Decentralised budgetary ‘franchisor’ responsibility in the North of England can only rest with statutory authorities. The franchisor is the legal entity that holds the contract with the train operator. The Northern and TransPennine networks cover a large number of administrative areas including 19 unitaries, 9 shires, 4 ITAs, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Scotland (in

relation to Manchester to Glasgow/Edinburgh services).

“It is clear from initial engagement and discussions that not every transport authority in the north is willing, or able, to assume proportionate financial risk associated with

We put this point to Mackay, and he said: “You’re right, the key driver is economic growth, but at the same time we do recognise that the railway – particularly in the north – serves a lot of ‘softer’ or social functions. That too is important.

“We are trying to develop a strategy that suits all of the north, and we do have to take that into consideration.”

The LTRS process is designed to be engaging and inclusive, with extensive evidence gathering among the communities affected, and involvement from the LTAs in the Task and Finish Group.

At an initial stakeholder consultation event in October, Mackay said, addressing those quality of life and connectivity issues was a key issue raised by many.

The other main objectives proposed for the strategy are: improving the quality of the railways in the north, encouraging greater passenger use and reducing carbon emissions; making the railways more accountable to local people; and delivering a more efficient

franchisor responsibilities and therefore participate in a full way discharging functional responsibilities for the franchise.”

That report continues: “The preferred approach is towards letting a franchise of around seven years, during which time significant changes in the railway will have occurred, and governance structures in the North of England will have developed. Work will continue to develop financial and risk sharing principles that will underpin better outcomes for the North.”

Rural concerns

RTM reported from this summer’s ‘Devolving Rail to the Regions’ event at Manchester Town Hall (see RTM June/July 2012), where some speakers from northern counties like Cumbria had concerns that franchise devolution would still mean big cities taking the important decisions, even if these were cities like Manchester and Leeds rather than London.

The first objective for the Rail in the North strategy has been to support economic growth, defined by Gross Value Added, which again could suggest a bias towards the rail priorities of the major cities, which are of course the engines of growth.


securing revenue growth and re- investing cost savings to improve rail services.

There will also be some focus on light rail in the strategy, and interfaces with heavy rail, alongside tram-train, but that “won’t be the main focus”, Mackay said.

Co-operation and a ‘tremendous opportunity’

Mackay explained: “We’re ahead of the game in terms of what Network Rail are doing with their own long-term planning process. We have a good working relationship with them, and we’re sharing evidence with them, and getting some feedback from their four studies underway at the moment due to report this time next year: on freight and urban movements and so on.

“We’re hopeful that the Long Term Rail Strategy, once it’s developed and complete, will become something that people across the industry and across the north will refer to.”

The project director for the strategy is Jim Steer, one of the founding members of SDG alongside his high-profile role with Greengauge 21.

He said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for the north. Recent decisions on electrification and the Northern Hub represent exciting opportunities, but also pose some as yet unanswered questions. This exercise will look forward as far as the 2030s to establish a consensus-based vision for rail in the north.”

John Jarvis Consulting is also working on the strategy, which is being produced under a six- month commission that began in August.


rail technology magazine Dec/Jan 13 | 19

© IPPR North

© Alvey & Towers

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