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Anger over funding cuts for northern transport schemes

The Railway Hub

Funding cuts to key transport initiatives in the North threaten the Government’s levelling up agenda, leaders in the region have claimed.

Statutory transport body Transport for the North (TfN) said the Department for Transport is proposing to slash its budget next year.

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The department is planning to reduce the organisation’s core funding from £10 million to £6 million, and scrap £3 million of investment set to go towards the rollout of contactless payment systems for the North’s rail, bus and tram networks.

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TfN finance director Iain Craven said: “TfN’s board has clearly indicated its disappointment and concern that, at a time when the Government’s levelling up agenda is needed most, funding is being cut, putting northern investment and jobs at risk.

“It falls substantially short of what we outlined the North would need to level up infrastructure and accelerate benefits to the region.

“There is a real worry that this signals a diminishing ambition for the North, rather than pump priming the region’s economic recovery.”

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Lord Jim O’Neill, vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a coalition of business and city leaders, said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see the contactless ticketing – one the North’s flagship transport projects – scrapped.

“The idea of a modern, contactless, Northern updated version of the Oyster card … was central to the transport element of the Northern Powerhouse concept. This decision should be reversed.

“The Department for Transport needs to give northern leaders more funding powers over areas such as road and rail budgets for investment so they can take more of the tough decisions.”

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TfN said it is in discussions with the DfT about its funding settlement.

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Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...