Northern political leaders have suggested that alternative funding streams, such as the capture of land value increases, could bridge the gap between their ‘vision’ for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and ministers’ watered-down plan.
A week on from the publication of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, the board of Transport for the North (TfN) met to consider its response.
It unanimously passed a motion proposed by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham which stated that the Government’s proposals breached the commitments it had previously made on NPR, ‘and differ from this Board’s preferred option’.
The board resolved to:
- ask the Chair of Transport for the North to write to the Secretary of State for Transport asking him to explore with Transport for the North funding options for the delivery of the preferred Northern Powerhouse Rail network. Funding options could include local contributions, including through harnessing local economic benefits.
- ask the Chief Executive of Transport for the North to prepare a report to the Board on the impact the Integrated Rail Plan will have on the North’s economic and decarbonisation ambitions.
Speaking after the meeting with other metro mayors, Mr Burnham said they were coming back with a positive suggestion.
He said: ‘The idea of looking again at this with potentially a local contribution – given that the value of land along these lines would rise if we were committing to the full vision, as originally proposed by Transport for the North of the full Northern Powerhouse Rail – we could look at capturing that value with the Government, that being the contribution that helps us get the new line via Bradford.’
The sub-national transport body was stripped of its role as co-client of NPR following the decision to downgrade proposals for a new line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford to a plan consisting mainly of line upgrades.
Interim TfN chair Cllr Louise Gittins said: ‘The strength of feeling amongst board members is as strong as any I have ever seen.
‘And while they may be angry and disappointed about what has been put on the table – it is quite clear they still want to find a way forward. These resolutions set the board’s desire to want to work with government in determining what that way forward may be.’