TfN reveals Northern Powerhouse Rail plans in £70bn strategy

Transport for the North (TfN) has published its long-awaited Strategic Transport Plan which includes plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a network connecting the north’s six biggest cities.

Stretching from Liverpool to Hull, the new network would include a new line running between Liverpool and the HS2 Manchester spur via Warrington, which is hoped to reduce travel time from 50 minutes to 28.

Though this line does not stretch to Hull or Newcastle, the plan also outlines ambitions to upgrade infrastructure in the north east to increase line speeds in this region.

The total cost of the plan will be around £69bn between now and 2050 – equating to £2.3bn a year or an estimated £150 per northern passenger.

HS2 is central to the development of NPR, and the planned inclusion of new junctions and stations is hoped to link Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield via high speed services, with upgraded lines connecting Hull and Newcastle to the rest of the network.

It also details a new Trans Pennine line between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford, along with upgrades to the Hope Valley line from Sheffield to Manchester via Stockport.

Manchester Piccadilly features heavily in the plan, with the potential for new underground platforms to be developed as part of the HS2 spurs developments and wider boosted capacity improvements which would allow for eight through-services every hour.

Plan to connect 1.2 million passengers to the north

TfN says the new network would mean more than 1.2 million people live within an hour's train journey of at least four major northern cities.

“The north is a rich, diverse region and home to around 16 million people,” commented John Cridland, TfN chairman. “We have vibrant communities, buzzing cities, five stunning national parks, an abundance of talent and a wealth of high-performing businesses.

“TfN’s vision is of a thriving north of England, where modern transport connections drive economic growth and support an excellent quality of life.

“For the first time, civic and business leaders and transport operators are speaking with one voice on transport to make sure the North fulfils its potential.

“Our plan proposes a revolutionary investment programme that will make it possible to travel to high quality jobs. This is an ambitious programme that will improve our roads and railways, and will also drive a sea change in skills development in the North and ensuring we meet that historic gap in investment.”

Questions raised over limited TfN powers

Ministers will have to consider TfN’s recommendations after it becomes a statutory body in April, however, some have levelled criticism at the government for failing to provide the powers to TfN that bodies such as Transport for London have, specifically in the form of generating its own funding.

A “substantial” part of funding is expected to come from central government, although TfN will also be exploring “significant opportunities” to work with the private sector.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott had been attending the launch event for the plan, but stormed out.

"It was promised to have statutory powers,” he told the BBC. “Now we know, and it's been confirmed by government, it will have no powers.

“It can talk to the treasury along with the strategic bodies but it can't make a decision and it doesn't get any money. It's a bloody fraud.”

The strategy has previously been pushed back by TfN, although a number of plans have been presented as part of evidence to be used in the full document.

Public consultation on the plan will run until 17 April, with a final version due to be presented to the government for consideration later this year.

Top image: onfilm

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Huguenot   16/01/2018 at 20:24

Connecting Liverpool into the HS2 network is a no-brainer as not only would it provide for Liverpool-Manchester but also a direct London-Liverpool HS service. However, the article is slightly misleading when it says "... hoped to link Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield" in that there is no plan for HS services between Manchester and Sheffield. Kick National Grid out of the (newer) Woodhead tunnel, I say, and we would have a ready-made route.

Mikeb   16/01/2018 at 23:24

@Huguenot. Your first sentence is a bit confusing. Why is connecting Liverpool into HS2 and providing Liverpool-Manchester service a "no brainer"?

Pete   17/01/2018 at 08:14

A hundred or so pages of aspirations anyone with a vague interest in transport already knew about (and you’d have to read through the whole of such a dry document), with two key pages, 85 and 86, basically saying all of those aspirations will need to be funded by money from central government. The north has had decades of underinvestment in transport from central government, producing a glossy document isn’t going to change that. Prezza is absolutely right, it’s statutory powers or bust.

Paul   17/01/2018 at 11:02

What a load of pie in the sky, wishee washee thinking that will never get built. This government the DFT and the next 2 or 3 governments will never commit this type of money to rail infrastructure in the North. concentrate on the make do and mend of the last 50 years and drop the Powerhouse slogan its ridiculous we are in the slow lane for investment and that is were we will stay

Graham   17/01/2018 at 16:25

It is more pie in the sky and lies from Grayling and his friends just look at the mess this government have made of electrifying are railways so why should we believe this pack of lies

Michael King   17/01/2018 at 23:30

Liverpool HS2 trains will run to Crewe then on HS2 trackssouth thus Liverpool is connected to HS2 . As is is Manchester though their trains will be on HS track all the way. I can’t see anyone wanting to go Manchester Crewe Liverpool, so the service Liverpool Manchester improvement is not to do with the HS projects. The Prescott reaction was right this was all ribbons and trumpets but no bite. The Radio 4 interview on this was an abysmal lost chance by NPowerhouse Rail. And yet as I understand it faster stock is on order and 18000 more seats for northern commuters within 3 years.

Graham Nalty   18/01/2018 at 13:42

It is important that definite plans are carefully drawn, because unless there are plans for the new lines and upgrades, it will not be dome and money invested in others areas where there are plans. Three aspects of the rail services need to be improved systematically - high speed between the major cities - regular fast services linking the smaller towns - and commuter networks into all the main cities to deliver access to jobs. But the plan must attract strong public support in a way that HS2 have never succeeded.

Silverrider   18/01/2018 at 23:10

I wonder if the Leeds-Bradford-Manchester high speed line will use some of the old Leeds New Line formation? There's still half a tunnel at Gildersome and some kind of Parkway station to the west of the M62/M621 motorway junction could then be provided. Quite a bit of the formation is undeveloped still.

Paulw   19/01/2018 at 13:56

T'other Paul, ought to be aware that it will happen, but not until long after it was overdue to happen!

Samir   19/01/2018 at 16:43

With all the stops for HS2, it is not going to be any faster than other trains and the costs will soar because of the need to constantly change speed. Looking at HS3, this is over commuter routes, so the speed gain will be negligible and, as most people use the between city stations, the idea of HS from Liverpool to Leeds and Hull is brainless, most users don't live in the main cities. Both services would be better off with improved local services, new rolling stock and extra track so fast trains can pass, which is the cause of delays now. Comparing Liverpool to Leeds to services in other parts of the UK - London commutes - it is at leas as good for speed vs stops ratio. The north east needs improving to bring Newcastle and Edinburgh within reach and there are not many towns in the area that will need bypassing or want stops. Compare the UK London to Glasgow/ Edinburgh trains to Brussels to Hamburg, the distance is similar and so is the travel time Better use of facilities, not vanity projects for now discredited PFI executives and their offshore tax schemes

Mikeb   19/01/2018 at 20:09

@Michael King. Indeed, Liverpool trains will run on the classic line to Crewe where they will join HS2 and there is an indication that passengers from Preston could reach London faster than passengers from Liverpool. However, there is a great deal of lobbying on Merseyside, from politicians and the business community, for a high speed line right through to Liverpool. This is where Northern Powerhouse Rail may provide the solution with a new line to Manchester Airport.

John   18/02/2018 at 18:23

HS2 have their flawed plan. It even has an "S" bend around Tatton with a 7.5 mile tunnel into Manchester Piccadilly, a station facing the wrong way. The high-speed trains many, many, many miles from Manchester will be running at very slow speeds defeating the object of all this expense to have trains running at high speeds on expensive high-speed track that will only allow them to run at low speeds. It is clear HS2 are working to a budget and NPR will work to a budget. HS2 are saying you can have a junction into HS2, but you pay for it. The west to east line from Liverpool will then be in a rather lengthy route. This is bureaucratic nonsense. There needed to be joined up thinking. There is none. NPR is best with a new line from Liverpool, through Manchester at full speeds and onto West Yorkshire, preferably through a Pennines "base" tunnel. The Manchester station should be Victoria, a new state of the art "through" station, with the wrong facing Piccadilly closed, saving massive maintenance costs. Liverpool and Manchester trains can branch from HS2 into their respective cities via west to east NPR, when the two lines meet. Simple. Obvious, cheaper. You name it is is just better. Why must we put up with this buffoonery?

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