The Department for Transport has announced further funding for rail upgrades in response to Lord Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review, which was initially published in 2021.
There has been investment promised across the four nations of the United Kingdom, with the aim of strengthening connectivity and communities.
The original Union Connectivity Review recommended improving rail journey times and capacity between Cardiff and the Midlands, Investing in the West Coast Mainline north of Crewe and the North Wales Mainline as well as improving connectivity in Northern Ireland.
In the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper’s response, some of these projects have seen investment promised, including £3.3 million of funding support to Translink for a study into the cost, feasibility and value for money for electrification of the railway in Northern Ireland from Belfast to the border.
DfT has also identified previously announced investments as part of Network North as priority projects including the £1 billion investment to fund the electrification of the North Wales Main Line, which will aim to bring parts of North Wales within an hour of Manchester and electrify the 105-mile route between Crewe and Holyhead.
The Midlands Rail Hub has also been prioritised in the response, with a renewed commitment to build on the initially promised £1.75 billion investment.
The funding allocated for the Midlands and its connections to Wales follows on from the investments already made in Wales, including £50M for Cardiff Crossrail, £141M for the transformation for the Core Valley Lines and £2.7M to explore South Wales Main Line improvements.
Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “We are committed to delivering growth opportunities across the United Kingdom.
“Today we are announcing support for projects that will boost connectivity and enhance transport connections across the UK. These projects will identify schemes that can bring economic benefits to people across the UK.
“I’d like to thank the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive for working collaboratively with us on these projects and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them on improving UK transport connectivity.”
Lord Hendy said: “I welcome the government’s response to my review and the announcements in it. My recommendations outlined the next steps that the government should take to identify investments that will improve connectivity and support economic growth, job creation, house building, social cohesion and sustainability.
“The government’s response shows that they are taking the necessary actions to move this work forward and demonstrates their commitment to improving UK connectivity.”
The news was also welcomed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, who commented: “Improving connectivity across Northern Ireland and the UK is a priority of the UK government, and I am pleased that these feasibility studies will support that aim in Northern Ireland for the benefit of businesses and people living and working here.”
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