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£3.9 billion of additional funding has been announced for the Transpennine Route Upgrade, a major rail infrastructure project to improve connections for passengers and freight between cities in the North of England.
The project is a major improvement on the route between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York, and will include a fully-electrified line, accessible stations and more frequent running trains. The new connection between Manchester and Huddersfield is set to add an additional 1,000 seats per hour in capacity, and cut journey times in half across the Pennines. Digital signalling and a doubling of the tracks across the Pennines to allow fast services to overtake stopping and slower freight trains are also part of the improvements.
The additional funding is being delivered as a result of the reallocation of funding for transport stemming from the cancellation of HS2 between Manchester and Birmingham. The £3.9 billion for the route, on top of £3 billion already committed, will also help to underpin plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), an East-West high-speed rail link connecting cities across the region.
The government has also announced that both Bradford and Hull will be brought into plans for NPR, with significant regeneration plans for Bradford also included. The city, the UK’s seventh largest, had been controversially omitted from initial plans for NPR set out in the government’s Integrated Rail Plan, given the city’s lack of mainline rail connections. £12 billion has already been announced for the Liverpool to Manchester leg of the route, although details of how this line will be delivered are unclear as the route had been planned to share tracks with HS2 between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
Rail Minister Huw Merriman said:
“The Transpennine Route Upgrade represents the first major step in delivering transformed east-west connectivity in the north and I’m delighted to announce this multi-billion-pound funding boost to move to the next stage of delivery.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates this government’s commitment to delivering its Network North plan which will improve journeys, help to level up regions and grow the economy.”
Once complete in the mid-2030s, the upgrade will offer up to 8 trains per hour, hundreds of extra seats and cut journey times between Manchester and York. 15 extra freight services will also be able run daily as a result of the work, reducing annual CO2e emissions by 108,000 tonnes. Work is also underway on the cross-Pennine route between Manchester and Sheffield, via Stockport, to deliver similar capacity improvements.
Neil Holm, Managing Director for the Transpennine Route Upgrade, said:
“Transpennine Route Upgrade is well underway with building the infrastructure that bring passengers more frequent, faster, greener trains, that run on a better, cleaner and more reliable railway for generations to come.
“This commitment by the government to our programme allows us to move two of our largest projects from design into construction and delivery. It brings us one big step closer to delivering the future of rail travel in the North of England.”
Darren Oldham, Transport for the North’s Director of Rail and Road said:
“This is a major milestone for the TRU project as it upgrades a key rail corridor across the North, bringing improvements for passengers and extra capacity for freight. TfN has been working with partners for some years to bring forward these benefits, which will lay the foundations for further transformational development from Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“We fully welcome the investment in this corridor as it will improve journey times, reliability, capability and capacity between Manchester and York via Huddersfield and Leeds. It will also reduce the pressure on the road network, particularly the M62 between West Yorkshire and Manchester.“