7. Governance of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NRP, was HS3)
This is the sixth commentary of a series which discusses the background, programme governance and management issues related to the northern rail programme. This programme, which supports the rail connectivity requirements of the government’s Northern Powerhouse concept, was originally described as ‘HS3’. It has now been renamed as the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, or NPR.
On 7th March 2016 Transport for the North (TfN) published its Spring 2016 progress report on the Northern Transport Strategy [ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/northern-transport-strategy-spring-2016 ]. The report describes progress made so far in defining the scope of the rail and other transport modes which will support the government's Northern Powerhouse strategy, and will provide the North of England with the required connectivity both to HS2, and within the region. HS2 is the High Speed Rail project to link the North and Midlands to London.
The Spring 2016 report includes an outline economic review (a more detailed economic assessment will be published in April 2016) of the effect of transport strategies in the north, and indicative timelines for the development of these.
The next twelve months will be spent by TfN in planning investments, assessing options and developing prioritisation and decision-making frameworks in the context of local economic strategies. Outline feasibility work will be completed by Autumn 2016 allowing assessment of options by the end of 2016. To allow increased speed and frequency of rail services in the North, options include new lines (including the possibility of a tunnel under the Pennines to link Manchester with Yorkshire), and upgrades to and enhancement of existing rail infrastructure to promote economic growth.
TfN is expected to be established as the first statutory Sub-national Transport Body in 2017 under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016. TfN, which will oversee the governance of NPR, represents all Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP's), Combined Authorities and Local Transport Authorities in the North of England. Governance structures are such that TfN is headed by a Partnership Board, giving direction to an Executive Board with responsibility for implementation of programmes.
Details of governance structures and processes for NPR are not given in the Spring report, although it is clear that there will be strategic links in delivery and operation between the HS2 programme and NPR, and with the current and future rail programmes for the north of England, to be delivered by Network Rail.
Key milestones for the NPR investment programme recorded in the Spring report are option generation and initial prioritisation in 2016/17; scheme development from 2017/18 to 2019/20; and implementation from 2020.
contributed by Peter Deary