Train at Manchester Airport station

Government reveals next phase of North Powerhouse Rail development

The government has revealed the next steps of development for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), following consultation with local leaders and MPs.

The announcement comes after the government’s Network North plan pledged £12 billion to boost connections and enable the delivery of NPR as originally set out.

MPs and local leaders have approved plans for NPR to serve Manchester Airport and Warrington Bank Quay, using broadly the previously proposed route between Manchester and Liverpool.

The government has also committed to consider views by MPs and local leaders on possible alternative uses of funding to improve connections. Any alternative schemes must be affordable and demonstrate value for money for the taxpayer while supporting the rail capacity needs of central Manchester and boosting connectivity across the North.

Lord McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North, said: “We welcome the progress of further engagement with Northern political and business leaders. It’s essential that any final route is place based and meets the ambitions of local leaders for their residents and businesses.

“Northern Powerhouse Rail is a key cornerstone to how we transform the North for generations to come. We look forward to working with the government to realise our shared ambition for a rail network that the people and businesses of the North truly deserve.”

Northern Powerhouse Rail will inspire economic growth in the North of England, transforming East-West links and better connecting people to work, education and business opportunities.

“Northern Powerhouse Rail is a key cornerstone to how we transform the North for generations to come.”

Quicker and more frequent services could see journey times cut by around a third, reducing the journey time between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly from around 50 minutes to around 35 minutes.

Capacity could also treble between Liverpool and Leeds, offering an additional 2,100 seats every hour in both directions.

The government’s announcement also reflects strong support to retain a station at Manchester Airport, boosting connectivity for millions of passengers every year, with plans to create direct links between the airport and several towns across the North, including some east of the Pennines.

Under such plans, journey times from Liverpool to Manchester Airport could be slashed by an hour, while travel to the airport from Leeds could benefit from a 41-minute reduction.

Warrington could also receive a new station to facilitate direct access to Manchester Airport and several neighbouring cities, while also supporting local regeneration ambitions.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “Today, we are setting out the next steps for how we can transform east-west rail links in the North, helping to boost economic growth between key Northern cities as part of our Network North plan.

“I thank local leaders and local MPs for sharing their views and facilitating constructive conversations. I have heard a clear consensus, which means we can now take another crucial step towards delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail, part of this government’s plan to boost rail capacity, deliver faster journey times and offer better connectivity across the North.”

The Transport Secretary confirmed in a written statement to Parliament that he would continue to promote the High Speed Rail Bill, and the government would seek to adapt the Bill to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail only.

A further £35 million made available to Network Rail will also unlock the next phase of NPR between Leeds and Liverpool and allow for the progression of other major projects, such as a new station in Bradford.

Metro Mayors in Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region will also benefit from over £1.7 billion from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement from now until 2027 and are set for an additional £4 billion from 2027 until 2032 to invest in transport, funded in part by reallocated HS2 funding.


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