Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Needs a Transport Chief, Claims Think Tank

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Needs a Transport Chief, Claims Think Tank

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Reporter

ANEW Transport Commissioner for the North with a PS15bn budget for road and rail should be announced in the Chancellor's final Budget, an influential think tank has said.

IPPR North says George Osborne must empower the whole of the region - and not just Greater Manchester - so local decision-makers can build a future.

The centre-left organisation argues the region must take control through a Transport for the North (TfN) group - similar to Transport for London (TfL) - which would be accountable to residents through local authorities.

The PS15bn should be placed in TfN's hands to create rail and road links between North cities.

It would be the last chance for the Coalition to address a gulf in spending between the North East and the South East. There is 24 times more money-per-head spent in London than in the region.

IPPR is also calling for the appointment of a Transport Commissioner for the North to act as a figurehead; a move towards a contactless crossboundary ticketing system; the ability to manage rail franchises, rolling stock and stations; and the end to Pacer trains being used on the Northern line.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: "The North East has suffered from slow and inadequate transport links for too long, particularly on rail, so it is vital the Northern powerhouse does not exclude the North East and focus on the Manchester-Leeds axis alone.

"Our proposals set out plans and a governance structure that will ensure that all of the North East has a place at the table and can push for its own priorities, but in doing so the region must remember that transport improvements further afield will also benefit passengers and businesses in the North East.

"Establishing Transport for the North would ensure its rail, road, port and air networks are properly linked into a modern, integrated transport network and prove crucial to the area's economic prospects. …

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