The UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has released a GBP 589 million (EUR 652.48 million) investment for Transpennine line upgrade, electrification and signalling digitalisation.
Under the project, 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.
Line’s 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. At the end 2020 the government will publish the Plan, specifically looking at how to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and other rail needs as quickly and efficiently as possible for the north.
The Transpennine line 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. the 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.
The 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, a GBP 10 million (EUR 11 million) funding for design stages of new works focused tackle rail congestion was awarded in June.
In addition, 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 been announced. The council, comprising region’s mayors and council leaders with the Transport Secretary as chair, will hold its first meeting in September. The council 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. The council will collaborate with Department of Transport 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 GBP 20 million (EUR 22.15 million) to deliver infrastructure renewals on the Tyne and Wear Metro, following the announcement of GBP 15 million (EUR 16.6 million) to upgrade Horden, Darlington and Middlesbrough stations.