Transport for the North (TfN) is set to break new ground with the creation of the UK’s first pan-regional freight and logistics strategy, designed to create the integrated transport network that the logistics sector in the north needs to drive growth and create jobs.

Specialists Mott MacDonald and MDS Transmodal have now been appointed to help drive forward the development of the strategy, supporting TfN in determining the size, role and likely growth potential of the freight and logistics industry in the north.

Once the baseline studies have been conducted, the partner consultancies will work closely with TfN to develop investment proposals and policy agenda which will support the sustainable development of this important sector.

Feeding into TfN’s overall vision, this work will also help deliver a sustainable transport system, which supports business growth and job creation, while supporting carbon reduction.

By maximising the north’s attractiveness as a place to invest in freight and logistics and increasing the value of exports across the region, this project will help improve the capacity and reliability of northern freight and logistics, contributing to the economy of the country as a whole.

The Northern Freight & Logistics Strategy will form part of the updated Northern Transport Strategy, to be presented to the Chancellor by the 2016 Budget.

The updated strategy will outline plans for rail and highways as well as freight and logistics as part of TfN’s work to create a vibrant and connected northern economy. Also integral to these plans will be improving the international connectivity of northern air and sea ports, enhancing local transport connections, and creating a plan to develop an integrated, smart travel system for the north.

Merseytravel, the strategic Transport Advisor to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, is TfN’s lead for freight.

David Brown, Director General of Merseytravel and who sits on the TfN Executive Board, said: “This is the north doing things differently – the public and private sectors working together and looking holistically at what we can do to boost our freight and logistics potential.

“Despite the fact that up to 60 per cent of containers entering the UK are destined for the midlands and the north, 90 per cent arrive through southern ports. This needs to be rebalanced. An efficient, sustainable freight industry is of massive importance to economic growth, supporting countless industries.

“Mott MacDonald and MDS Transmodal have been brought in to devise a clear strategy across road, waterways, rail and air which will underpin the transformation of northern connectivity, supporting northern industry and paving the way for a northern powerhouse.”

Eddie Mellor, Head of Transport Planning North at Mott MacDonald said: “We are delighted to be working with TfN and engaging with a wide range of public and private sector actors within the freight and logistics sector to draw together a cohesive and powerful strategy that supports the exciting economic prospects of the north.”

Mike Garratt, Managing Director at MDS Transmodal said: “It is a great privilege to be able to contribute to developing this strategy. The freight industry accounts for around eight per cent of the economy and makes huge investments in its own fleets and infrastructure in a highly competitive environment, while depending on the road and rail networks provided by the public sector. Our objective is to identify a shared vision covering investment, operations and planning that will command the confidence of the private sector, attract investment and promote economic success for Northern England on a sustainable basis.”

The TfN partnership is a unique collaboration between the northern city region authorities, Government and the national transport agencies, created with the shared aim of transforming northern growth, rebalancing the country’s economy and establishing the north as a global powerhouse through enhanced connectivity. To drive forward its vision, TfN is currently recruiting for an interim chief executive.