*This story was written prior to the Government announcement, for our coverage on the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan click here.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps are set to reveal their plans today to overhaul Britain’s rail network.
The Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) will deliver faster train journeys with £96bn expected to be invested into the rail network.
This investment will transform journeys between the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West.
Passengers will see the benefits of a modernised rail network ten years sooner than expected under the new plans.
The IRP will focus on local services as well as high-speed links which will improve connectivity for people in all parts of Britain.
Under the IRP journey times from London to across the Pennines will deliver journey times similar or faster than the original HS2 and Leeds-Manchester proposals.
This will also double or treble capacity across the rail network.
The announcement of the Government IRP comes following the announcement £360m will be allocated for London-style contactless payments on commuter routes across the North and Midlands.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke on the IRP’s role in the Government’s levelling up agenda.
Mr Johnson said: “If we are to see levelling up in action now, we must rapidly transform the services that matter to people most.
“That’s why the IRP will be the biggest transport investment programme in a century.
“Delivering meaningful transport connections for more passengers across the country, more quickly – with both high-speed journeys and better local services.
“It will ensure no town or city is left behind.”
Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport spoke on how the IRP will transform the rail network to the benefit of current and future passengers.
Mr Shapps said: “Throughout the pandemic, we stood by our railway and invested billions to keep the country moving.
“We are about to unleash a £96 billion programme of investment that will transform a Victorian network into one befitting a modern country.
“The IRP is designed to deliver for everyone, much sooner than under previous plans for rail schemes drawn up a decade ago, which no longer fit the way we travel today.
“Our plan will deliver a network that is fit for passengers today and for future generations.
“[The IRP will deliver a] network that works for every community and every passenger, right across the UK.”
The IRP was initiated following the recommendations made in the Oakervee Review which assessed major transport schemes like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The review recommended a plan should be drawn up to deliver an improved rail network for the North and Midlands.
As part of the Government’s levelling up agenda the IRP will look deliver on this and unlock productivity across the North and Midlands.