Greater Manchester will get new responsibilities over transport as part of the city-region’s most significant devolution deal with Government.
The new Trailblazer Deal includes more influence on regional rail services and the delivery of the Bee Network by 2030 - a London-style integrated public transport system, integrating bus, Metrolink, rail, and cycle hire with improved services.
Passengers of the Bee Network will benefit from simpler fares and integrated ticketing.
Progress is already being made through bus franchising with public control of the buses taking effect from September in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Bury and Salford.
Welcoming the Trailblazer Deal, Vernon Everitt, transport commissioner, said: “The integrated Bee Network will transform how people move around our growing city-region and radically improve what it is like to do business here for generations to come.
“Better rail services are critical elements in delivering this.
“We are supportive of rail reform under Great British Railways (GBR) and I very much welcome this Trailblazer Deal. It provides a firm foundation for effective partnership working with GBR with clear initial actions to enable full integration of local rail services into the Bee Network by 2030.”
Everitt added it was particularly exciting to see the Deal’s commitment to simplified and joined-up fares and ticketing, with pilots for this to be agreed this year.
The branding of stations will also bring everything together for customers.
Everitt said: “Having greater influence to shape train services and infrastructure investment is also very welcome.
“In just over six months’ time we will deliver the first major steps towards creating the Bee Network when buses begin to come under local control alongside Metrolink and active travel.
“Integrating train services with the rest of the Bee Network is the next step and we can’t wait to take it all forward with partners to deliver world-class connectivity and services for the people and businesses of Greater Manchester.”
The Trailblazer Deal lays the foundation for Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to have greater input into its stations, services and strategic infrastructure investment with the creation of the North West Regional Business Unit and GM Rail Board.
This will enable GMCA to improve local scrutiny of performance, help shape future service integration with the Bee Network and support the best possible public transport experience for the people and businesses of Greater Manchester.
Under the plans, GMCA may also have the power to introduce byelaws where necessary tot ackle anti social behaviour and fare evasion.
Securing the financing of Greater Manchester's public transport system post-Covid, and in light of inflationary pressures on energy and other costs, requires short-term support over the next two financial years and discussions ongoing with the government on this matter.
Andrew Haines, Great British Railways Transition Team Lead, said: “To create a simpler and better railway for everyone in Britain, the railway must be much closer and more responsive to the needs of customers and local communities.
“We have been working together with Transport for Greater Manchester for some time and it is pleasing to see this collaborative work come to fruition with the announcement of this trailblazer devolution deal.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with TfGM to deliver a railway that works better for passengers and supports the delivery of the Bee Network.”