Northern Powerhouse

23.07.20

£589m for rail upgrades across the North

A multi-million-pound investment has been confirmed today by Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, to kickstart work on the Transpennine main line between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester.

This announcement also comes from the newly established Northern Transport Acceleration Council (NTAC), devoted to accelerating vital infrastructure projects and better connecting communities across the North’s town and cities.

The renowned for being congested section of the route will be doubled from two to four tracks, allowing fast trains to overtake slower ones, improving journey times and dependability for passengers across the North.

With most of the lines being electrified, the Department for Transport has said they are aiming to have full electrification, digital signalling, more multi-tracking and improved freight capacity. These elements are now under consideration as part of an “Integrated Rail Plan” due to report in December.

These developments would allow all-electric services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle; bring longer and more regular services and create substantially more local capacity along the line.

These upgrades would also allow more freight on the route, replacing thousands of diesel lorry journeys with electric freight trains, and will also be considered in the Plan.

Work is also under way to tackle the bottlenecks at either end of the route, without which the upgrade’s potential cannot be fulfilled. Leeds station is being re-signalled and a new platform is being built. In central Manchester, development funding was awarded last month to tackle rail congestion.

The newly formed Northern Transport Acceleration Council will guarantee northern leaders have a direct line to ministers and has been formed with the desire to cut bureaucracy and red tape so passengers can get the modern, reliable transport network they deserve as quickly as possible.

The council forms part of the Government’s wider strategy to level up communities and strengthen devolution, the NTAC will engaged with the Department for Transport staff based in northern cities and will be dedicated to delivering for the North.

This follows the announcement of a range of investments to level-up infrastructure across the North including £20m to delivery infrastructure renewals on the Tyne and Wear Metro, following £15m announced to upgrade Horden, Darlington and Middlesbrough stations.

Transport Secretary and Northern Powerhouse Minister Grant Shapps said: “People across the North rightly expect action, progress and ambition, and this government is determined to accelerate improvements as we invest billions to level up the region’s infrastructure.

“We are determined to build back better at pace, and this new council will allow us to engage collectively and directly with elected northern leaders to build the vital projects the region is crying out for.”

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said: “Levelling-up opportunity will be key in our recovery from Coronavirus - and our long-term success will rely on having world-class infrastructure in all parts of the country. The Transpennine rail upgrade shows we are delivering on our promises to the North.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “This feels like a gear change from the government in the delivery of transport improvements in the North of England and I welcome the new drive that the Transport Secretary is bringing to this.

“People here deserve a modern, reliable public transport system and it is my hope that the Northern Transport Acceleration Council will bring forward the day when that is a reality. It is crucial that the Council listens to the voice of the North and is accountable to people here through their elected politicians and bodies such as Transport for the North.

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