£589 million to kickstart rail upgrades across the north
- over £600 million worth of investment in northern rail network will drive improvements across the region, including release of £589 million for work to upgrade and electrify Transpennine main line
- new council, led by Grant Shapps as Northern Powerhouse Minister, will give northern leaders ‘direct line’ to ministers to accelerate transport projects
- body’s work to drive progress across the north will be supported by Department for Transport (DfT) staff based in northern cities
To kickstart work on the Transpennine main line between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester, £589 million has been confirmed this week (23 July 2020) by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. The establishment of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council dedicated to accelerating vital infrastructure projects and better connecting communities across the north’s towns and cities has also been announced.
The most congested section of the route will be doubled from 2 to 4 tracks, allowing fast trains to overtake slower ones, improving journey times and reliability for passengers across the north. Most of the line will be electrified, and our ambition is to go further. Full electrification, digital signalling, more multi-tracking and improved freight capacity are now under consideration as part of an ‘Integrated Rail Plan’ due to report in December.
These improvements will allow all-electric services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, bring longer and more frequent trains, and create significantly more local capacity along the line.
Improvements to allow more freight on the route, replacing thousands of diesel lorry journeys with electric freight trains, will also be considered in the plan.
Work is also underway to tackle the bottlenecks at either end of the route without which the upgrade’s potential cannot be fulfilled. Leeds station is being resignalled and a new platform is being built. In central Manchester, development funding was awarded last month to tackle rail congestion.
The council launched today will ensure 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.
As part of the government’s wider strategy to level up communities and strengthen devolution, the council’s work will engage with DfT staff based in northern cities and dedicated to delivering for the north.
This follows the announcement of a range of investments to level-up infrastructure across the north including £20 million to deliver infrastructure renewals on the Tyne and Wear Metro, following the announcement of £15 million 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.