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Transport for the North's smart ticket scheme behind schedule

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The first phase of Transport for the North’s (TfN) development of its smart ticketing scheme is currently running behind schedule - but should still be implemented by the end of the year.

The project to introduce a smart ticketing system in the north of England has faced a delay in delivery due to contractual issues but LGC has been told the programme is now expected to run to plan.

Ginny Leonard, interim programme manager at Transport for the North (TfN), said: “There was a delay in terms of delivery but the way we’ve mitigated it means the delivery of the benefits for the vast proportion of the spend will be achieved in this financial year.”

TfN aims to introduce contactless smartcards for ticketing across its transport network by December 2018.

In a report submitted to TfN’s scrutiny committee on 30 August, the transport body’s financial controller Gareth Sutton said that “forecast capital expenditure [for the smart ticketing programme] is £3.36m, or 97%, behind budget”.

Ms Leonard said this percentage is related to the project’s scheduled timeline, adding that the team had brought forward other projects to work on while contracts were being agreed.

“We were able to continue with most of the other projects but it was just the contractual arrangements which meant there was a variation in the actual spend dates,” she said. “But because it’s being delivered in collaboration with the other train operating companies they’re the ones who are delivering so they’re the ones who have pressed on.”

In a separate report to TfN’s board on 28 June, Mr Sutton reported that the organisation’s total budget was 40% behind expectation, with most of that underspend apportioned to three programmes - including smart ticketing.

This underspend was reportedly due to delays in the government gateway approval processes and the agreement of “franchise side agreements with train operating companies”.

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