The government has cut funding for the Northern Roof Transport Authority and removed responsibility for developing Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The decision, announced in a letter to the organization, comes after Transport for the North (TfN) criticized cuts to the program designed to improve rail traffic across the region.
In addition to the Ministry of Transport, TfN was a co-client of the project and was responsible for instructing the infrastructure operator Network Rail.
However, in the letter released on Friday, the Department of Transportation said it would take sole responsibility for future work on the project.
David Hughes, director of DfT’s Rail Infrastructure Group, said in the letter to TfN Chief Executive Officer Martin Tugwell that the department intends to take “full and immediate responsibility” for developing NPR’s strategic framework.
TfN would be relegated to an advisory role and only become a “co-sponsor” of the project.
Transportation industry sources said the move appeared to be a government response to criticism from TfN.
The group chairman responded to the Integrated Rail Review yesterday by stating that the government had provided “less than half” of what the leaders of the north had asked for. She described it as “unfortunately inadequate”.
TfN had also publicly voiced concerns about cuts to the program after leaks suggested what was to come. The letter was sent on Thursday, the day the Integrated Railway program was published, and announced on Friday.
The letter from the DfT states that it assumes that employees will have to leave TfN and that the change will “have a significant impact on the employees currently working on the program”.
And it adds, “The leaders of the North will continue to be able to shape the NPR program through direct, regular access to the Secretary of State on the Northern Transport Acceleration Council.”
Labor described the changes as Whitehall’s “power grave”. Shadow Transportation Secretary Jim McMahon said, “It was clear that once Transport for the North found its own voice and developed a Northern Powerhouse Rail plan that the government did not support, it would come to an end.”