Transport for the North unveils £70bn vision


Transport for the North (TfN) has unveiled a 30-year transport strategy for the region, which aims to deliver a £100bn economic boost and 850,000 additional jobs by 2050.

The plan is estimated to cost around £70bn over the 30 years or around £2-2.3bn per year. However this also includes current spending through ongoing strategic transport investment.

TfN estimates the plan could be delivered with additional spending of £700-£900m a year. 

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This is an important step in the North speaking with one voice to set out its vision for transport in the region over the next 30 years.'

As well as outlining plans for the short, medium and long-term, the strategy looks ahead into areas of disruptive technology such as driverless cars.

TfN aims to 'enable assessment of innovative future developments that take into account technology take-up, such as autonomous vehicles, policy changes, and collaboration, such as Mobility as a Service'.

On driverless cars it states:'There is a balance to be struck as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles could also bring drawbacks to the North’s future transport system by, for example, undermining public transport, as people could use these vehicle services instead of public transport. Understanding the changes in technology will also be crucial when addressing interventions to support TfN’s road based travel projections and the efficiency and resilience of the Major Road Network for the North.'

Corridors of opportunity

The draft plan, which is under a 13-week consultation, has identified seven ‘corridors’ of opportunity.

These are:

  • Multi-modal: Connecting the energy coasts, Central Pennines, Southern Pennines, West and Wales
  • Rail: East Coast to Scotland, North West to Sheffield City Region
  • Road: Yorkshire to Scotland

Connecting the Energy Coasts - Looks at ways to improve travel between vital non-carbon energy and research assets in Cumbria, North Lancashire, North Yorkshire, the North East and Tees Valley. 

Central Pennines - Improving strategic east-west connectivity in North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Riding and Hull and Humber through to Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool City Region.

The Southern Pennines corridor - Identifies proposed road and rail improvements from the Port of Liverpool to the Humber Ports, via Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Sheffield City Region, as well as strengthening cross-border movements into the East Midlands.

West and Wales - Improving connectivity around Cheshire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, with strategic connectivity in to North Wales and the Midlands.

East Coast to Scotland - Strengthening rail connectivity and capacity along the East Coast Main Line and other key parallel rail lines, such as the Durham Coast Line, to provide enhanced strategic and local connectivity in the North East, Tees Valley, East Riding and North Yorkshire. 

North West to Sheffield City Region - Strengthening rail connectivity between the advanced manufacturing clusters and assets in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Sheffield City Region, with improved connectivity from the North in to Scotland.

Yorkshire to Scotland - Strengthening road connectivity between the Midlands, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, East Riding, Tees Valley, the North East, and Scotland, building on the existing road investment commitments.

The document states: 'These seven corridors represent an economic area where the evidence to date suggests most progress towards the transformational growth scenario would be made by bringing forward major, strategic rail and road investment over the lifetime of the Strategic Transport Plan especially on some of the crucial east-west corridors.

'They are by no means where all future investment should be concentrated, but represent where the largest gaps between demand and performance currently exist, and also where there is likely to be the greatest economic potential for agglomeration between the prime and enabling capabilities and the North’s important economic centres.'

John Cridland, Transport for the North Chairman, said: 'Our plan proposes a revolutionary investment programme that will make it possible to travel to high quality jobs. This is an ambitious programme that will improve our roads and railways, and will also drive a sea change in skills development in the North and ensuring we meet that historic gap in investment.'


TfN has outlined its own Major road Network for the north - as part of wider Government plans to establish a network of strategic local roads funded by ringfenced VED - which covers 5,454 km, excluding the strategic road network in the region, and represents 7% of the North’s roads.  

The principles behind the development of a MRN for the North are to link:

Current economic centres - generally have a population of more than 50,000 people (or perform a strong sub-regional function), represent a regionally important international gateway for people or goods, or employment cluster, or university located external to a major settlement

Future economic growth locations - key growth centres that are set to deliver a sufficient number of jobs/dwellings to have a significant impact on the economy when considered at the level of the North.


Transport for the North has also outlined its emerging vision for Northern Powerhouse Rail, accompanied by an updated Rail Strategy for investment in the North’s existing lines, stations, services and franchise operations.

The document states: 'Analysis shows that Northern Powerhouse Rail could increase the population within one hour of four of the largest cities from less than 10,000 today to 1.3 million helping support a modal shift from road to rail.'

The emerging vision for the Northern Powerhouse Rail network includes:

  • A new line between Liverpool and the HS2 Manchester Spur via Warrington
  • Capacity at Piccadilly for around eight through services per hour
  • A new Trans Pennine rail line that connects Manchester and Leeds via Bradford
  • Significant upgrades along the corridor of the existing Hope Valley line between Sheffield and Manchester via Stockport
  • Leeds to Sheffield delivered through HS2 Phase 2B and upgrading the route from Sheffield
  • Leeds to Newcastle via HS2 junction and upgrades to the East Coast Mainline
  • Significant upgrades to existing line from Leeds to Hull (via Selby) and Sheffield to Hull (via Doncaster) 

TfN is due to be integrated with Rail North this April, when TfN is set to be granted statutory status. At which point the transport strategy will also become a statutory document.

Transport for the North has already started making progress on a rolling programme to introduce integrated and smart ticketing across the North of England from now until 2021.

A final version of the plan will be published later in the year and submitted to the Government for ministerial consideration. Find out more by visiting

Image from TfN

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