Burnham says £589m rail boost ‘not enough’
The Greater Manchester Mayor welcomed a Government pledge to fund the upgrade and electrification of the TransPennine main line between Manchester, Leeds and Huddersfield in Yorkshire, but said it would not solve all of the North’s transport woes.
Andy Burnham said: “The additional funding for the Transpennine route upgrade is a sign of intent from the government. This feels like a gear change in the delivery of transport improvements in the North of England.
“But upgrading the existing railway between Manchester and Leeds does not diminish the need for a new line as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail, nor does it solve the capacity issues in central Manchester, which require a separate solution.”
The proposed electrifying of the Transpennine railway served by First Group’s TransPennine Express would allow all-electric services to run between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, improving west-to-east connectivity across the North of England.
The Department for Transport announced the funding on Wednesday, with the upgrade package also intended to upgrade the number of available tracks on the busiest part of the Transpennine route to reduce delays.
Work is already under way to tackle blockages at either end of the route, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to unplug the central Manchester bottleneck.
Additionally, the DfT announced the formation of the Northern Transport Acceleration Council, a body that will work alongside the department and push through infrastructure and connectivity projects in the North.
Burnham said: “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 becomes a reality.
He said his main priority was to build a ‘London-style, integrated public transport system’ in Greater Manchester, and intends to work with the secretary of state for transport on “achieving this vision”.