Final report demands funding for northern rail projects ‘creating 70,000 jobs’

Northern leaders have put together six final demands to the Government for “badly-needed” rail investment projects – including new lines between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, and connecting Sheffield to HS2.

Transport for the North (TfN) today unveils its final preferred route for the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) scheme, and said the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan to be published this month, should be “ambitious”.

The leaders said “now is not the time to scale back on ambition” – and that the Government should commit to the full visions of both NPR and HS2.

Its statutory advice published on Tuesday includes details of the North’s agreed NPR network. Within those details are preferences for a mix of new lines and major upgrades including electrification on the network spanning from Liverpool in the west to Hull in the east.

The proposals would create more than 70,000 jobs, they added.

The proposals published today 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

Under the proposed phasing plans outlined by TfN, construction would begin “by the mid-2020s”.

Tim Wood, NPR director at TfN, 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.”

Tim Wood

The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan is expected to set out the long-term investment proposals for the North’s rail upgrades as well as details on how the projects will be delivered, and be published later in March.

NPR is a project between TfN and the Department for Transport. Both have drawn up the plans, with the aim of “radically improving the North’s ageing rail network”.

Once delivered, the network is predicted to contribute £14.4bn in annual GVA to the UK economy by 2060, create up to 74,000 new jobs in the North by 2060 and take the equivalent of 58,000 cars off the road.

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Following a request by the Department for Transport, TfN said it has agreed to delay submitting the business case for NPR until the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan has been published.

As well as making recommendations on the preferred routes for investment, the North’s leaders have also sought assurances that they’ll continue to have a full joint leadership role in the programme.

Business Live – North West