Leeds City Centre by Night. Image: James Prestage, Arup; Leeds City Centre by Night. Image: James Prestage, Arup;

Transport for the North, North England

Launching the UK’s first sub-national transport body for the North

Giving the north a voice in Whitehall

United by a desire to present a single, strategic voice for transport in their region, 19 local government partners – along with Highways England, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport – came together to establish Transport for the North (TfN).

As the UK’s first sub-national transport body, TfN represents the 16 million people who live in Northern England at national level to secure funding for transport schemes that are vital for transforming economic growth. Gross value added (GVA) is estimated to be almost £290 billion by 2050.

Arup was appointed to design the new organisation, the first of its kind, and write the IT Strategic Plan that would allow all 19 partner organisations to work as one remotely. We also supported TfN with their first major deliverable to Government; the Strategic Transport Plan.

We were tasked to be the lead consultant on this transformative project due to our combination of in-house change specialists and psychologists, together with Government policy advisors, transport planners and digital experts.

Project Summary

1st sub-national transport body in the UK

16mpeople in northern England

£290bnGVA towards the UK economy by 2050

Laying the foundations for a country-first organisation

Our initial commission was to utilise our inherent understanding of the transport business to design the brand new organisation, creating a new model for change management in the industry.

Being the first body of its kind meant TfN would not follow traditional structure. But what would such an organisation look like and how would we support their goals?

We worked with TfN to bring the partners together, all with different cultures and processes, through a shared vision meaning organisations can interface effectively. The result is an exemplar organisation with a tailored operating model that reflects their unique strategic position between local and national level.

The design means TfN are flexible and adaptable to change; essential as it transitions into delivering the transport infrastructure and travel interventions the North needs.

Navigating the challenges of IT

Alongside the organisational design, we were challenged to create a digital infrastructure and environment conducive to effective internal working, as well as across its remotely located partners.

We developed an intuitive, all-encompassing IT Strategic Plan; a roadmap for the vision, strategy and architecture of their IT systems and applications. The plan has helped TfN develop applications, data and services integral to their operations that will continue to support their growth and delivery of strategic transport schemes now and in the future. 

Following this, we produced their overarching Data Strategy that helped TfN undertake a strategic review of how they will use data to drive decision making, and deliver transformational change in the North.

Delivering the vision to connect the North

Our trusted advisor relationship evolved into Arup supporting the delivery of the Strategic Transport Plan.

The Plan makes the case for developing a transport network, needed to support transformational economic growth, that would mean 1.3 million people would live within an hour's train journey of at least four major Northern cities.

Our work was focused developing a compelling and evidence-led plan to put to Government. We provided expert advice on drafting the document and undertook targeted research to support the narrative.

This has laid the foundation for TfN to create lasting transformational change and move forward with real momentum towards becoming the powerful voice on transport in the North.

Bringing the Plan to life

Arup worked closely with TfN on developing the draft Strategic Plan, as well as the preceding positioning statement and supporting publications. Our in-house Visual Communications team helped develop an exciting, vibrant, high quality document that also launched a new brand identity style for the organisation.

The plan uses detailed maps, infographics and diagrams to show the recommendations for transforming road, rail, sea and air travel. Strong photography was used, celebrating the uniqueness and diversity of the North.

TfN have invited feedback on the plan during a 13-week series of public consultation events across the North. This engagement will culminate 
in the Strategic Transport Plan, a blueprint for 30 years of infrastructure investment.