Regional and transport leaders from the North of England have agreed their preferred route for a proposed East-West high-speed rail route, dubbed Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Plans for the route have been drawn up by regional transport body, Transport for the North (TfN), and with the ambitious project now submitted to the Department for Transport for consideration for inclusion in its upcoming rail investment plan for the region.
The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan is anticipated to be published in March 2021 and will set out infrastructure investment for the region and regional leaders have called for commitment to the full investment of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail to boost jobs and growth in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. TfN estimate that by 2060 the route could deliver up to 74,000 new jobs across the North by, contribute £14.4 billion to the economy and remove 58,000 cars from the road.
Plans for the region submitted to government include a mix of new high-speed routes, as well as major upgrades and electrification on routes running East to West from Hull to Liverpool. Proposals include:
- A new line to be constructed from Liverpool to Manchester via the centre of Warrington
- A new line to be constructed from Manchester to Leeds via the centre of Bradford
- Significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield
- Connecting Sheffield to HS2 and on to Leeds
- Significant upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull
- Significant upgrades of the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle (via York and Darlington) and restoration of the Leamside line
Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North, Tim Wood said:
This is the culmination of years of work on the original Northern Powerhouse vision to radically connect the North’s communities by rail; create jobs; and boost the northern economy for decades to come.
“Communities and businesses want to see certainty on what will be delivered and when in order to make key investment decisions and create new opportunities.
“We hope that the significant body of evidence, worked up alongside the Department for Transport, will be reflected in an ambitious commitment to investment in the North in the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan. We can then swiftly press on with joint delivery for the Northern public. We’ve done the work together, now let’s get on and deliver for the North together.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:
This Government were elected on a promise to level up the North of England and whether Ministers back this vital project in full will be a key test of that commitment.
“This is absolutely not the time to be scaling back on ambitions for Northern Powerhouse Rail and people here will not accept yet another second class solution.
“Northern Leaders stand ready to work with the Government to make swift progress on this project and, at the same time, deliver the promised additional investment in day to day transport services that is long overdue here in the North.”