It makes clear how the North’s economy will be turbo-charged if up to £70bn is invested in the area’s creaking road and rail infrastructure over the next 30 years.
Yet this blueprint has a number of obstacles to overcome if it is to meet the expectations of long-suffering commuters who have become accustomed to promises of ‘jam tomorrow’ – such scepticism is understandable when pre-election promises to electrify key railway lines proved to be worthless.
Local residents do not necessarily want a pie-in-the-sky pipedream. They want specifics, like the timing of proposed improvements to their local roads, trains and buses, after a year of unprecedented delays on this region’s rail services.
They also need to know, as taxpayers, how the promised plans will be funded. TfN makes the case to increase spending “on strategic transport by around £50 per person in the North by each year to 2050” – but is this expected to come from the Department for Transport, town halls via council tax levies or the private sector?
And, quite reasonably, the successful implementation of this plan depends on TfN having the necessary powers – and resources – to ensure that its vision becomes a reality. Of course, this depends on the Government being more reasonable than Chris Grayling, the southern-centric Transport Secretary, who continues to be deeply mistrusted here after a succession of policy scandals preceded the past year’s chaos on the railways and how this affected the lives of so many passengers.
Details do matter. However TfN’s case will become all the more powerful and persuasive if it seeks to secure public support from the outset.