About Transport for the North

Our Work

TfN’s role and responsibility is to set the long-term strategic framework for the development of the North’s transport system. This enables investment in individual elements of our transport system to be aligned to achieve a shared ambition for the North.

Collaborative working between partners (regionally and nationally) and with infrastructure owners and service providers is fundamental to success.

By establishing and maintaining a regional evidence base, TfN ensures there is a consistent baseline upon which all those with an interest in the North’s transport system can build. Our award-winning strategies on Future Travel Scenarios allows us to consider alternative futures as part of our work, whilst our Transport Related Social Exclusion work is at the cutting edge of putting the user at the heart of strategic transport planning.

It is essential all our plans are underpinned by robust evidence, and we develop policies that can be turned into action. Our value as a regional body is directly linked to the credibility and robustness of our evidence base.

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 have successfully refreshed.

The year ahead will see us prioritise the application and delivery of the TfN evidence base through activities including through being:

  • A focal point for trusted data and evidence to inform local and national transport planning
  • A source of ‘thought leadership’ on connectivity policy matters that are cross boundary and/or of common interest
  • A provider of technical services and advice, including analysis, modelling and planning tools
  • An objective broker and convener, bringing relevant partners together to accelerate delivery of infrastructure and services
  • An advisor to government to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of rail service for the North

“Our vision is of a thriving North of England, where world class transport supports sustainable economic growth, excellent quality of life, and improved opportunities for all.”

Our core values were developed in collaboration with our TfN 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.

TfN 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, TfN 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 tens of billions in real terms to the North’s existing output, 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 originally commissioned by TfN 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. The review was refreshed in 2023, and this economic data is one of the bedrocks of our Strategic Transport Plan.

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 (2023) 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 requires a radical change.

Therefore, we have just published our updated Strategic Transport Plan (STP), which has updated the first one we published in 2019. It is our principal policy document and informs how Government, Network Rail or GBRTT, National Highways and HS2 Ltd can work with partners in the North to deliver investment that can transform the economy. 

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.

The document will harness the opportunity for change in the way people and businesses access services and opportunities as a means of effecting further change so as to deliver on the strategic outcomes underpinning the STP.

Transforming the North for generation to come is at the heart of what it seeks to achieve.

A copy of our brand-new Strategic Transport Plan is available here.

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 an 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.

We remain committed to working with the Depart for Transport as co-sponsor for the Northern Powerhouse Rail system so that the benefits of the funding announced in the IRP is delivered at the earliest possible opportunity.

We will also continue to provide analytical support to the NPR programme. 

Find out more about Northern Powerhouse Rail here.

Major Roads

We are working with the Department for Transport and National Highways to inform priorities for road investments in the North. And we will be looking to influence the Road Investment Strategy 3 for the interests of people living 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.

Our Major Roads Report outlines the critical role that the North’s strategic roads play in enabling our residents and businesses to go about their daily lives.

It sets out the scale of the challenge as we look to enhance their safety and reduce their environmental impact.

Strategic Rail

The year ahead with the general election and the Rail Reform Bill poses many opportunities for TfN in how we shape the future of the North’s Rail Network for generation to come.

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) northern rail services through the Rail North Partnership.

As well as co-managing rail service contracts – 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. Defining how this new proposed Integrated Rail Body is structured around our existing sinews will be potentially a big opportunity for the organisation.

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 2024/25 provides further information on our current work programme and the progress to date.

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 fairer 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 rail service contracts.

Rail service contract matters are considered in the Rail North Committee which is made up of representatives of 11 regional groups covering the rail contract service 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 service contract 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) regional rail services covering the Northern and TransPennine Express rail service contracts (through the Rail North Partnership)
  • Construct new roads, with the agreement of Government and relevant highway and local authorities
  • Decide on capital grants

Empowering the North of England | Statutory Status | Transport for the North

Our Business Plan for 2024/25 provides further information on our current work programme and the progress to date, a copy can be found here.