England’s Economic Heartland is sifting a shortlist of transport corridors to determine which should be the subject of studies to inform investment planning.
An initial long list of corridors was drawn up following discussions within the EEH’s strategic transport forum and the secretariat’s review of responses to a draft transport strategy.
Corridors are now being scored against the four principles of the EEH’s transport strategy: achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions no later than 2050; improving quality of life; supporting the regional economy; and ensuring the movement of people and goods through the region.
A recommended draft programme of studies will be presented to the forum in June. The EEH plans to start two studies in 2020/21 and then three every year thereafter.
The shortlist is:
Oxfordshire – Milton Keynes: although the future of the Government’s controversial Oxford-MK expressway road plan is unclear, the EEH says the Government remains committed to funding a connectivity study between Oxford and Milton Keynes. “Subject to the outcome of the current review into the Oxford-MK section of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway, EEH will work with the Government and local partners to develop the connectivity study,” it says. The study will “incorporate opportunities such as Aylesbury to Milton Keynes (A418)”.
England's Economic Heartland has outlined the transport powers it may seek in its forthcoming application for statutory status.
Transport for the North is currently the only statutory STB. Last year the then transport secretary Chris Grayling said he did not want to create any more statutory STBs at this time (LTT 19 Jul 19). That has not, however, deterred other non-statutory STBs from preparing applications for statutory status, including Transport for the South East (LTT 01 May) and EEH.
The EEH is preparing a consultation on applying for statutory status in the summer, with a proposition being submitted to the DfT next spring. This could see statutory status granted in spring 2022.
The general functions of a statutory STB include preparing a transport strategy and providing advice to the secretary of state about the exercise of transport functions for the area.
EEH programme director Martin Tugwell told the EEH’s strategic transport forum this month that the “added value” of becoming a statutory STB was that the secretary of state would have to have regard to its transport strategy when making decisions on national strategies.
The legislation governing STBs allows them to make proposals to the secretary of state for further powers.
The EEH envisages requesting powers that it would hold concurrently with consituent authorities. These could include:
• The right to be consulted about new rail franchises
• The right to have a role in setting the High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for rail
• The right to have a role in setting the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) for the Strategic Road Network
• The ability to enter into agreements to undertake certain works on the Strategic Road Network, Major Road Network or local roads – this would enable EEH (working with partners) to promote and expedite the delivery of regionally significant cross-boundary schemes
• making capital grants for the provision of public transport facilities, enabling EEH to support the funding and delivery of joint projects with constituent authorities
• securing the provision of bus services
• entering quality bus partnerships
• introducing integrated ticketing schemes
• promoting or opposing infrastructure Bills in Parliament
Tugwell said the Williams Review of the railways could recommend significant changes to the structure of the rail industry, including the role of STBs in both rail operations and infrastructure enhancement. As a result, he said it would be “prudent” to keep the following functions under review as potentially being appropriate for a statutory STB:
• acting as co-signatories to rail franchises
• being responsible for rail franchising
In keeping with proposals of other STBs, “it would [also] be appropriate to seek the functional power of competence as set out in section 102M of the Local Transport Act 2008”.
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