THREE transport organisations have joined the board of a group aimed at shaping the south east’s road and rail network over the next 20 years.
Earlier this week, Network Rail, Highways England and TfL (Transport for London) signed up to the Transport for the South East initiative, which is currently working on its plan following a consultation.
The organisations will work with civic and business leaders, representing more than 7.5m people and 300,000 businesses, to shape investment plans for the South East’s transport network.
Bosses from the initiative said that by adding Highways England and Network Rail to its board, it can strengthen works with infrastructure owners responsible for road and rail links.
It added that teaming up with TfL underlines the importance of the relationship between the capital and the South East region.
The transport strategy will be published this summer. Transport for the South East said that its 30-year plan will set out how targeted transport investment can:
- more than double the South East’s economy;
- create an additional 500,000 jobs;
- boost quality of life and access to opportunities for everyone; and
- help cut the region’s carbon emissions to net-zero.
Discussions will take place with government about the devolved powers and responsibilities Transport for the South East needs to deliver the strategy before a strategic transport investment plan is published next year. This plan will provide government and other potential funders with a prioritised and costed programme of schemes, initiatives and policies to achieve Transport for the South East’s vision for the region.
Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said: “Transport for the South East has quickly emerged as a strong and effective partnership, bringing together leaders from the public and private sectors to speak with one voice on our region’s transport needs.
“We are already working closely with Network Rail, Highways England and Transport for London as we develop our transport strategy and investment priorities for the South East. It makes sense to formalise those relationships, adding considerable technical expertise and strategic insight to our partnership board.
“Bringing Transport for the South East and these key partners closer together will help ensure we’re best placed to deliver investment in the South East’s most important strategic transport links while also working together to improve connectivity with the wider region and the UK.”
John Halsall, managing director of Network Rail’s Southern region, said: “The devolution of Network Rail to regional businesses is all about putting passengers first. A big part of how we do that is to work much more closely and collaboratively with regional stakeholders, so I’m delighted to accept the invitation on behalf of Network Rail to join Transport for the South East’s partnership board.
“Rail is absolutely vital to the lives of millions of people and businesses across the South East and has a huge role to play in supporting sustainable economic growth. I look forward to working with partners from across local government, business and the transport industry to deliver a better, more integrated and more sustainable transport network for our region.”
David Stones, Network Planning Director, Highways England, said: “Highways England has been working closely with Transport for South East since their inception and are delighted to be invited to join their board. This reflects the strong connections we have been building over the last two years. We look forward to developing further our existing relationship as we plan for the transport needs of the future.”
And Alex Williams, Director of City Planning at Transport for London, said: “Good transport in London and the South East supports jobs, homes and a thriving economy, connects communities, attracts business and plays a vital role in safeguarding the environment. Long-term certainty of funding is vital to ensure public transport in London and the South East does not roll back, but moves forward.
“As the capital’s strategic transport authority, we look forward to continuing our engagement with Transport for South East – through its existing Transport Forum and now formally at its Partnership Board – to support the case for sustained funding and better public transport for everyone.”