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Transport for the North are using a scenarios approach to understand and respond to the future uncertainty of how people will interact with the transport system in years ahead. This will inform the future of transport debate, and help us design transport strategies which are adaptive and resilient to a range of different plausible futures.

Our Future Travel Scenarios have developed a shared understanding of the current and emerging complexity of the future of transport. They create dynamic roadmaps which we will need to navigate when delivering our vision of a thriving North, where world class transport supports sustainable economic growth, excellent quality of life and improved opportunities for all, in line with the Northern Charter objectives.

What are Future Transport Scenarios?

Our Future Travel Scenarios are a shared understanding of the broad range of factors effecting current and future transport in the North of England. Scenarios are not predictions. They are not intended to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ statements, but are aimed at collaboratively exploring (as well as challenging and stretching) our thinking towards the alternative ways the transport landscape might develop, and the actions we might take.

By building out from the Strategic Transport Plan (STP), our Future Scenario Framework will be rooted in a range of factors which are important to the North. In creating a more holistic view and tackling the future uncertainty of these factors, we can ensure confidence in delivering the North’s shared vision.

The scenarios will be used to communicate our approach to uncertainty, and as a mechanism to ensure our transport policies and strategies are robust, resilient, flexible and innovative. They will support our strategy by building a comprehensive understanding of future uncertainty and how it may impact future travel patterns of people, business and goods. This will be ingrained in our work and reflected through our Investment Programme, business case development and policy & strategy direction.

A66 Northern Trans-Pennine project

Our work impacts programmes across the North. We play a key role in the future planning of major infrastructure plans across the region, and support many of the strategic goals of our projects.

Development of the Future Travel Scenarios

Scenario planning is a futures technique used to inform medium to long-term strategic analysis and planning. This will help future proof our decision making as best as possible and ensure informed vision-led strategic transport planning, which is resilient to wide ranging and cross-sector uncertainties.

In developing these Future Travel scenarios, we have applied the Government Office for Science Futures Toolkit (GO-Science Futures and Foresight Toolkit). The focus throughout this work had been on identifying the most important and uncertain factors influencing change in transport demand in the future. In alignment with the National Planning Policy Framework, we have purposely targeted drivers of change typically outside of transport, including economic; social; and environmental interdependences which, when taken together, can deliver a sustainable net gain.


We aim to deliver a credible and lasting framework supported by Local Authority and delivery partners.

Our partners have contributed through workshops and challenge sessions providing a wealth of valuable expertise, intelligence, and viewpoints regarding national and local strategies and visions, to shape the work.

The Future Travel Scenarios stimulate collaboration and constructive discussion, building a consensus between ourselves, partners and other stakeholders on factors of future uncertainty. The scenarios will deepen our understanding of the dynamics of change, and inform and evaluate future transport strategy across the North.

Collaboration cogs diagram
Road in Leeds with buses and cars

Why is our work important to the North?

Future transport will likely be achieved through a combination of behavioural change; increased public transport use; new technology; on-demand, flexible or shared mobility; active travel; electrification (or other low carbon energy options). It should be supported by a whole systems approach, with much more integration of transport, energy, housing infrastructure and associated land use planning. These trends pose both risks and opportunities which will require strategic planning.

Applied correctly, Future Transport solutions can help us make the most of our transport infrastructure. Whether it is increasing the transport options available to customers, implementing technology solutions to improve efficiencies and customer experience, supporting social change to encourage active travel, encouraging sharing or public modes as the preferred way to travel, or in pursuing rapid uptake of low and zero-emission vehicles and the supporting energy capacity.

Our scenario development leads us to understand the key drivers of future change and infer the resulting travel demand using our Analytical Framework. From this we can analyse commonly supported aims, policy measures and interventions which can be used to respond to demands or influence the solutions the North wants to see, through an adaptive strategy which drives us towards our vision.

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In the run up to our publication of the Future Travel Scenarios, we are publishing a series of insights pieces to raise the profile of related activities and levers of change already being applied across the North.

What next?

We will publish a report on the refreshed scenarios during 2020. This will articulate the process of developing the scenarios, our understanding of key drivers and policies of change, implications for future travel patterns and how the scenarios will be used to develop our strategy for an uncertain future.

The Future Scenarios will provide further evidence and analysis to support decision makers in shaping the policies and investment plans needed to deliver our vision.

This includes evidence on what is needed to meet targets for decarbonising transport and on how transport could support levelling up of prosperity and quality of life in the North.

Response to Future of Transport call for evidence

Transport for the North’s response to UK Government’s call for evidence regarding Future of Transport

At a glance | Strategic Transport Plan

Setting out the key messages on the case for investment in transport and our work programmes

Strategic Transport Plan | One North

The first time the North has come together to outline the robust case for transformational transport investment across all of the North, to rebalance the UK economy

Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review – Core Messages

A transformed North could see a 4% increase in productivity, equating to an increase GVA of almost £100 billion, and create up to 850,000 new jobs.

Investment Programme | 2020 – 2050

This outlines a pipeline of transport interventions to better connect the whole of the North, with a short, medium and long-term plan for investment.