Steve Payne is the Strategic Transport Manager with TVU
TVU is Local Enterprise Partnership of Tees Valley local authorities also now with private sector board members. Its function is to boost the region’s economy & jobs, to attract inward investment and educational opportunities. It has a shared vision on connectivity within the Tees Valley for both passengers and freight and with the rest of the UK. The transport vision takes into account the rail aspirations of stakeholder groups such as ours. This vision needs to be supported by a business case for investment as transport is competing for funds with other sectors.
In respect of rail investment and support, TVU was pleased that the East Coast franchise now included the promise of a Middlesbrough – Kings Cross service and was lobbying to bring its introduction forward as well as enhancing connections at Darlington. There was also good news that the Trans Pennine franchise specification included continuation of through trains between Middlesbrough and Manchester Airport, also that the electrification task force had recommended electrification from Northallerton to Middlesbrough which would improve the case for further electrification of the Darlington to Saltburn and Durham Coast lines, whilst the Northern franchise specification included the long wished for earlier and later trains on the coast line.TVU would continue to lobby for a half-hourly service on both the Hartlepool – Nunthorpe and Darlington – Saltburn axies. With the exception of Redcar British Steel & Teesside Airport stations TVU would fund the installation of customer Information displays at those stations not covered by Northern Rail’s 100 station commitment.
Leaders of the five Tees Valley authorities are now Members of the Rail North Association (covering 29 Northern Local Transport Authorities) and Tees Valley also has one seat (currently the Leader of Darlington BC on behalf of the 5) on the Rail North Board. The NE Combined Authority (NECA)has similar representation and TVU and the Tees Valle Local Authorities continue to work closely with NECA on rail issues through a number of regional partnerships. A key priority for the region is the creation of a new NE Business Unit within the Northern franchise to give NE stakeholders more of an influence in service development. There had been no consultation by First Group or the DfT regarding last year’s changes to the Transpennine timetable which destroyed connections at Thornaby and had the Newcastle & Middlesbrough services only around seven minutes apart north of York. This should not happen again under the new regime. The business unit has been discussed with all the Northern bidders and is expected to be included within the new franchise. The Tees-Tyne journey time needs reducing (possibly with a regular service via Stillington & Durham) and with better trains with more capacity. The DfT now seemed to accept that that this was necessary without recovery through the fare box.
The new Transport for the North was set up and driven by the five PTE cities and was not inclusive. The TVU was lobbying to change this and hoped that the appointment of local MP James Wharton as responsible for the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ would help in this matter. It was hoped to be able to put pressure on Network Rail to meet Tees Valley aspirations including speed enhancements in their network study for the next five year control period.
Those present asked that TVU feed the following into the system for consideration
- A rationalised fare structure for local trains including the provision of through period returns to Newcastle Airport
- Coastline trains to serve James Cook and Nunthorpe on Sundays
- Transpennine services to be extended to Redcar and or Hartlepool/Sunderland.
- Some through services from the coast line to Whitby
- Track reconfiguration at Middlesbrough to allow more flexible working
- Step free access to Billingham station