For years the North has lagged behind while priority is given to London and the South East and the fact that Transport for the North (TfN) – which will become the first strategic body of its kind come April – even exists is a reflection of the failure of this Government and its predecessors to address the region’s transport needs.
Which is why the next 12 months are so important. A strategic transport plan for the North, setting out the £60bn worth of spending needed over the next three decades, will be unveiled in January.
It has the backing of the region’s 19 transport authorities and would help bring some kind of parity between the North and South. It is a vitally important issue and one this newspaper has repeatedly raised having taken the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to task over broken pledges and the failure to address the region’s urgent transport needs.
Hull North MP Diana Johnson points out that ensuring the North receives its fair share of investment is in the interests of the UK economy. She is absolutely right, as she is in her assertion that the aim to complete the transformation of the North’s transport network by 2050 is not good enough.
Many of the planned changes are much needed and long overdue and if Transport for the North is to have any real clout, rather than being another toothless advisory body, it must be able to influence government thinking.
Jonathan Spruce, TfN Interim Strategy Director, says next year is a “watershed moment”. It certainly is. The question is will the Government help ensure the region gets the transport system it deserves?