Transport for the North has reacted to The Queen’s Speech. Quadrant Transport looks at the response and what the transport improvements in the speech mean for the sector.
Chief Executive of Transport for the North, Martin Tugwell, has welcomed the Queen’s Speech, which included references to improving transport and delivering on the levelling up agenda. Improving transport means promoting greener, faster, and more innovative travel.
Transport For The North Is Ready To Make Levelling Up A Reality
Martin said: “It is reassuring to hear explicit mentions of the need for rail reform in today’s Queen’s Speech, something that we and our region’s political and business leaders have been calling for and contributing to. Combined with a focus on innovation and decarbonisation, and underpinned by the ongoing commitment to levelling up, this is a welcome commitment to enhancing connectivity.
“We now need greater detail on the role of Sub-national Transport Bodies within the new Transport Bill, setting out how we can offer our regional insights and expertise to help deliver a new rail regulatory framework that puts passengers first.
Transport for the North is ready and waiting to be at the forefront of the Government’s plans to make levelling up a reality and create a sustainable transport network across the North of England.
More Innovative Travel Is Essential To Transport Improvements
Transport will be improved by making the UK a hub of innovation and more sustainable. With a world-leading electric vehicle charging network, measures have been brought in relating to private e-scooters, which are currently banned from use on public roads and pavements.
In addition to this, legislation to allow self-driving and remotely operated vehicles and vessels have been featured. Support has been given out to the rollout of more electric vehicle charge points as part of the transition from petrol and diesel models.
The Great British Railways Will Simply The Network
Another way that was announced to improve transport was the creation of the new public sector body, the Great British Railways (GBR). It is said to simplify the rail network and improve services for passengers, absorbing the state-owned infrastructure management company Network Rail and taking on many functions from the Department for Transport.
The Great British Railways: The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail document outlines that it will “bring the railways back together, delivering more punctual and reliable services.”
Delivering punctual and reliable services is essential in bringing back train passengers after the pandemic. In line with the Covid-19 roadmap, close work with the sector on measures that enable people to have the confidence to travel again and to support their new working patterns will be seen. New flexible tickets will be introduced.
For the services to become less confusing for the travelling public, the mass of tickets will be simplified. Introducing far more convenient ways to pay using a contactless bank card, mobile or online will be seen.
Trains will be better planned with each other and with other transport services, such as buses and bikes. Affordable ‘turn up and go’ fares and capped season tickets will continue to be protected.
Ferry Workers Will Have Their Rights Protected
Transport will be improved by measures being brought in that protect the rights of ferry workers, and secure powers to build and operate the next stage of HS2.
Back in March, P&O sacked almost 800 members of staff with immediate effect, terminating contracts of employees and replacing them with agency workers.
Due to vessels not being based in a particular country, they are not subject to national laws, such as the minimum wage. P&O had been planning on paying agency workers as little as £1.80 an hour.
Now, in the Queen’s Speech, the UK Government has unveiled its Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill, which will be debated and voted on in Parliament in the months ahead. Protecting seafarers working aboard vessels visiting UK ports is its main aim.
While in UK waters, ferry services that do not pay an equivalent to the National Minimum Wage to seafarers now could be refused access by ports.
Seafarers who are working on domestic ferry services and on offshore support vessels serving oil and gas installations in the UK continental shelf have already seen ministers apply the National Minimum Wage.
Transport for the North’s reaction shows that those in the transport sector are ready to make transport more sustainable and welcome the UK Governments plans.