Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has confirmed over £600 million will be made available for rail upgrades in the North of England.
The majority of the funding, £589 million, will be spent of commencing work on the Transpennine route between Manchester and Leeds. Work will include completing full electrification of the route, create capacity for longer trains, and double congested sections of the route to four tracks, increasing capacity for local services and shortening journey times for fast trains allowing for greater interconnectivity between Northern cities.
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.”
The Transport Secretary has also announced the establishment of a Northern Transport Acceleration Council, made up of Mayors and Council leaders, that will work with the Transport Secretary and Northern Powerhouse Growth Body and give the region a direct line with central government to accelerate infrastructure and rail upgrades with the aim to “improve outcomes for people and places” in the North of England. It is expected to meet for the first time in September.
The investment has been welcomed by political leaders in the region, including Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. He said:
This feels like a gear change from the government in the delivery of transport improvements in the North of England and I welcome the new drive that the Transport Secretary is bringing to this.
“People here deserve a modern, reliable public transport system and it is my hope that the Northern Transport Acceleration Council will bring forward the day when that is a reality. It is crucial that the council listens to the voice of the North and is accountable to people here through their elected politicians and bodies such as Transport for the North.
“The additional funding for the Transpennine route upgrade is a welcome sign of intent from the government. The North has long argued for the existing scheme to be upgraded to bring the full range of passenger and freight benefits and we are glad that the government has listened to this. But it is important to be clear that upgrading the existing railway between Manchester and Leeds does not diminish the need for a new line in Northern Powerhouse Rail nor does it solve the capacity issues in central Manchester which require a separate solution.
“As we look to recover from COVID-19 and build back better, I am ready to work in constructive partnership with the government to get visible transport improvements as quickly as possible. My top priority is to build a London-style, integrated public transport system in Greater Manchester and I look forward to working with the Secretary of State on making this vision a reality.”
Other smaller scale projects announced to receive funding in the North of England include improvements to the Tyne and Wear Metro, and a number of station upgrades in the North East region.