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Proposals for £39bn investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail to be submitted to government

A business case for up to £39bn of investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) are to be submitted to the government, marking “the region’s single biggest transport intervention” since the industrial revolution.

The board of Transport for the North (TfN), representing local government and business leaders, have agreed to back proposals for the flagship rail network in the north, paving the way for a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) to be submitted to government.

The newly approved plans outline how the £39bn investment in NPR would increase capacity, speed, and resilience of the rail network, with options including significant upgrades and new railway lines.

NPR’s proposals would put 1.3 million within an hour’s train journey of at least four major northern cities, and cut journey times between cities by half through upgrades to existing lines and a new line from Leeds to Manchester via Bradford.

Work could begin as early as 2024 as the plans will now become TfN’s statutory advice to government on NPR.

The statutory advice urges the government to fully commit to NPR and ensure long-term capital investment is assigned in the next spending review, providing funding to ensure the project develops towards the detailed consent stage by the early 2020s.

The business case also calls for a significantly strengthened role for TfN in the design and implementation of HS2 Phase 2b, the TransPennine route upgrade, and Network Rail renewals programmes in the north.

TfN said this will help ensure all rail investment can be designed and delivered cohesively, maximising the benefits to passengers and to the north’s economies.

TfN’s northern powerhouse rail director Tim Wood said: “Our leaders had a vision to connect the north by rail like never before. Today, we are a step closer to making that a reality. In NPR, we have turned ambition and passion into a robust evidence base for investment of up to £39bn.

“It provides viable options and solutions to the north’s rail challenges.

“There’s no let up. While the government considers this case, we will begin the more in-depth design and feasibility work that will take us closer to a final preferred network.”

TfN launched its blueprints for a £70bn overhaul of northern transport infrastructure over the next 30 years last week, including the plans for NPR.

Also proposed in the plans is upgrades to the major highways between the biggest cities and a high-speed twin-track rail link between Liverpool and Manchester, connecting with HS2.

NPR and investment in the north’s rail infrastructure will be the focus of TransCityRail North, which takes place in October in Manchester. Click here to find out more.


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