The ambition behind Transport for the North’s draft plan is the first milestone in a very long journey – the question is how many of the proposed road and rail improvements will actually be built.
That said, it does appear to have more faith – for now – in Transport Secretary Chris Grayling than many.
From the public’s perspective, they’ve heard it all before. What this region wants, after decades of under-investment, is parity of funding with the rest of the country – and high-speed rail links between the region’s key cities are already a defining test of TfN’s capabilities and whether the Government’s commitment is more genuine than Mr Grayling’s actions to date.
And taxpayers have one other wish. They want promised schemes built on time and on budget, a guarantee that cannot be assured as Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee publishes two reports which expose chronic mismanagement and waste.
Even though the unauthorised payments of £1.76m that were made to HS2 staff made redundant when the organisation moved its HQ from London to Birmingham are a tiny fraction of the scheme’s overall cost, the enhanced terms did breach official policy and do not reflect well on financial controls.
Likewise Sheffield’s tram-train scheme. Not only has Network Rail’s initial £15m budget been exceeded by 401 per cent, but £5m was spent ‘future-proofing’ the scheme prior to the electrification of the Midland Main Line before this scheme was cancelled by Mr Grayling.
There will certainly need to be more direction, better planning and more effective oversight if Yorkshire is to ever get moving again.