About Transport for the North

Our Work

Northern Transport Charter

Our Northern Transport Charter sets out the roadmap towards long-term devolution based on the North’s priorities:

  • Putting passengers at the heart of the railways in the North
  • Leading Northern strategic scheme planning and delivery
  • Managing a long-term Northern funding settlement
  • Championing an inclusive and sustainable North

We have already made significant strides in embedding the Charter’s long-term goals into our everyday work.

We have worked to put passengers first and introduce a focus on local decision-making by implementing actions from the Blake Jones Review of the Rail North Partnership.

Likewise, we have developed freight and decarbonisation strategies to address the key priority for our Members of tackling climate change, and building on our Strategic Transport Plan and Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, which we are looking to revise.

The year ahead will see us take this important work forward, focused on three key elements:

  • Defined activities including developing and testing innovative approaches to support TfN, our partners and government to make decisions differently.
  • Demonstrate capability by developing delivery plans, prioritisation and building confidence.
  • Telling the story of why the Northern Transport Charter is important.

“Our vision is of a thriving North of England, where modern transport connections drive economic growth and support an excellent quality of life.”

Our core values were developed in collaboration with our Transport for the North team. They reflect how we will operate, both individually and as an organisation:

We make a difference

  • We will create opportunities for people and businesses that would not happen without us.
  • We will improve and change the way things are done, capitalising on the North’s unique strengths.
  • We will make the most of our position to stretch the boundaries of what we can achieve.

We collaborate

  • We consult our partners and are the embodiment of a “single voice for the North”.
  • We make the most of all our relationships, spanning the North of England and beyond, to deliver the right solutions.
  • We build our relationships based on openness, transparency, trust and integrity.

We do the right thing

  • We make sustainable, evidence-based decisions that maximise the positive outcomes they deliver for people and businesses across the North.
  • We will work together to improve connectivity and deliver a vibrant and growing economy across the North of England over the shirt, medium and long term.
  • We embrace diversity and work with others with honesty and respect.

We are driven to succeed

  • We want to be the very best we can be. The drive for excellence and innovation informs everything we do.
  • We will develop and grow, learning from both our mistakes and successes and sharing this with our partners.
  • We are proud to represent the North and will facilitate a step change in connectivity across the North of England by being role models for how things are done.

Transport for the North is working to build on our region’s strengths to create a vibrant and growing economic region that retains and attracts the best talent, acts as a magnet for inward investment, and becomes one of the world’s most competitive economies.

Investment in transport infrastructure is essential to creating a transformed, integrated Northern economy that is greater than the sum of its parts. This requires investment in the North’s transport networks to better connect the major urban centres and economic assets of the region to market opportunities, including talented staff, suppliers, collaborators and customers, at home and abroad.

We exist to further these economic ambitions and provide a coherent and integrated approach to strategic transport planning that supports local economic growth. With the support of local authorities and businesses from across the North of England, Transport for the North has developed as a strong and inclusive partnership, committed to driving forward the economy of the North through transformational investment in our transport infrastructure.

The prize for the North is a better performing, more unified economy that could add more than £37 billion in real terms to the North’s existing output of £289 billion per year, if the vision of the North as a super-productive network of modern city regions is achieved. To do so will require long-term planning and investment periods, robust and stable governance, supported by funding commitment from HM Treasury and city regions.

An Independent Economic Review (IER) of the North’s economy was commissioned by Transport for the North and undertaken between October 2015 and March 2016. It identified four prime capabilities of the North that have the potential to compete on the national and international stage. These are: advanced manufacturing, energy, health innovation, and digital.

These primary capabilities are supported and complemented by three enabling capabilities which give the North a distinctive offer and can help to unlock the region’s economic potential. These are: financial and professional services, logistics, and education (primarily higher education).

A copy of the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review Core Messages is available by following this link.

The success of the UK in the global marketplace, and the achievement of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, depends on the transformation of the economy of the North of England.

Closing the economic gap between the North and the national average needed a radical change. Building on the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review and Transport for the North’s statutory status, we set out the case for considered transport investment across the North in our Strategic Transport Plan and accompanying long-term Investment Programme.

Published in February 2019, this is our principal policy document and informs how Government, Network Rail, National Highways and HS2 Ltd can work with partners in the North to deliver investment that can transform the economy.

A copy of our Strategic Transport Plan is available here - or the At A Glance version is available here

The North’s civic and business leaders came together with one voice to approve the bold plan for infrastructure investment in the North. More than two and a half years since its launch, we have made great strides in calling for change in how transport is planned, funded and delivered for our region.

Gracie, aged 6, from Sheffield, outlined why our work is so important for her generation.

Gracie | It's all about me | Transport for the North - Transcript

There are a number of ambitious programmes which form the foundation of Transport for the North’s work:

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail is our ambitious plan for a rail network that will provide fast, frequent and reliable links between the North’s biggest city regions and its largest airport. It will be a prominent area of activity for TfN in the coming year.

The emerging vision is to deliver a step change in connectivity, combining new, upgraded and already planned lines and fully integrating with HS2. Delivered over 30 years, the project will improve East-West connections and offer a radical change in journey times – boosting productivity and creating more opportunities across the North.

The next stage of the planning process – a Strategic Outline Business Case – is due to be submitted to Government in the next financial year, following the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan.

Find out more about Northern Powerhouse Rail here.

Integrated and Smart Travel

Our dedicated Integrated and Smart Travel (IST) programme worked in partnership with public transport operators, local authorities, and digital innovators to deliver initiatives that contributed to our vision for travel in the North.

From contactless tickets to flexi season passes; open data to disruption planning, IST was at the cutting-edge of public transport enhancements.

The ambitious IST programme was delivered over four years, and, following notice from the Department for Transport in January 2021 that no further funding would be available, it has now been wound down, with the relevant skills retained in our Strategic Rail team, where possible.

Find out more about Integrated and Smart Travel here.

Major Roads

We are working with the Department for Transport and National Highways to inform priorities for road investments in the North.

Working with our partners, we have already created a Major Road Network for the North of England, a map of the local and strategic roads vital for economic growth. This will set the framework for future investment and a whole network approach to improving travel around the North. We also recently submitted a bid of investment in the North’s roads via the National Roads Fund.

Strategic Rail

Gaining statutory status gave us an initial limited role in making decisions regarding operational railways in the North of England. The statutory powers enabled Transport for the North to co-manage (jointly with the Department for Transport) franchised rail services through the Rail North Partnership.

As well as co-managing rail franchises – which are aimed at delivering transformation across the rail network – we are also responsible for shaping the future of infrastructure investment, bringing track and train together in a coordinated approach.

Find out more about Strategic Rail here.

Freight and Logistics

Moving goods around the North is imperative to building a transformed economy. Currently, many of the goods destined for the North or exported from the North are shipped through Southern ports or airports. Transporting goods effectively into, out of, and around the North would boost both sustainability and business.

In order to create a global economy, providing better and more reliable connectivity for freight and logistics businesses is fundamental. Our priorities include creating better East-West and North-South links, as well as increasing capacity.

Find out more about Freight and Logistics here.

Challenges ahead

Our Business Plan for 2020/21 provides further information on our current work programme and the progress to date, a copy can be found here.

We’re proud to be an inclusive organisation. Together we celebrate our differences and embrace our strength in diversity. We constantly strive to be among the best employers, actively building a diverse workforce to create an inclusive environment and reflect the communities we serve.

As well as accreditations and memberships, our approach manifests itself in our inclusive approach to recruitment and day-to-day ways of working. Our model empowers employees to be agile, flexible, and mobile to suit both the individual and Transport for the North as an organisation.

Our accreditations include:

Real Living Wage Employer: We have a long-term vision, so it was only right that we looked into having long-term investment in our people, based on our values and our beliefs. A team with good compensation and working conditions is in a stronger position to provide great collaborative and effective results.

Disability Confident: This scheme supports us in making the most of the talents disabled people can bring to our workplace and offers a unique opportunity to lead the way in our community.

Good Employment Charter: Provides strong and productive insights in delivering good jobs, with opportunities for people to progress and develop. Our membership of this Greater Manchester initiative supports our ambition to become an employer of choice along with supporting a thriving and productive economy.

CIHT Diversity and Inclusion Charter: By signing up to this Charter, we recognise that a commitment to diversity and inclusion is essential to reflect the communities we serve. Among our responsibilities, we will strive to achieve best practice in our recruitment, retention and career progression practices as employers.

Railway Industry Association and Women In Rail Charter: We recently signed the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter as part of a joint pledge to help create a more balanced and fair sector. As part of the Charter, we promote and help deliver positive change in our industry.

In addition to the above, we’re also proud to actively highlight stories from our diverse workforce on our communication channels, as well as boasting a Diversity Action Group – a group of colleagues spearheading an action plan to ensure we remain on track with our commitments and practices.

For more about our values and culture, click here

The Rail North Partnership, through a Management Team, reporting to a Partnership Board, with representation from each partner (DfT and TfN), jointly manages the TransPennine Express and Northern franchises. Last year the franchise operated by Northern was taken over by the Operator of Last Resort.

Rail franchise matters are considered in the Rail North Committee which is made up of representatives of 11 regional groups covering the rail franchise area (the Rail North Authorities). At meetings of the Rail North Committee, the Rail North Authorities are entitled to attend, speak and vote on rail franchise matters.

Prior to April 2018, governance in the North was via Rail North Ltd. - a company established and owned by the 25 Local Transport Authorities covering the geography of the Northern and TPE franchises, with Member level involvement on franchise matters primarily through a Board of Directors. When TfN took over the role and functions of Rail North Limited in relation to the management of the TPE and Northern Rail Franchises, the Rail North Committee was established to oversee this role.


Transport for the North's Leadership Team

For full details of Transport for the North’s current Leadership Team, please follow this link.

Transport for the North's Board

For full details of Transport for the North’s Board, please follow this link.

Our meetings

For full details of Transport for the North’s meetings, please follow this link.

Becoming a statutory sub national transport body 

Following approval from Parliament, we became England’s first Sub-national Transport Body in April 2018.

This landmark moment empowered the North to clearly communicate to Government its investment priorities. It also formalised our relationship with the likes of Network Rail and National Highways so we can inform their investment programmes based on the will of communities, passengers, businesses and decision-makers across the region.

This represented an unprecedented devolution of power from central Government to all corners of the North, allowing us to set our own agenda and work together to deliver a step-change in connectivity.

Our statutory powers allow us to:

  • Develop and implement a Strategic Transport Plan
  • Act as ‘one voice’ for the North, relaying priorities to the Secretary of State for Transport
  • Coordinate and deliver smart ticketing systems across the North
  • Become a statutory partner in road and rail investment decisions
  • Oversee (jointly with Department for Transport) franchised rail services covering the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises (through the Rail North Partnership)
  • Construct new roads, with the agreement of Government and relevant highway and local authorities
  • Decide on capital grants

Our Business Plan for 2021/22 provides further information on our current work programme and the progress to date, a copy can be found here.