BUDGET 2011: Piccadilly-Victoria rail link funding approved

Linking the two Manchester stations could be the biggest key to unlocking the growth of the region of any measure in the Budget, according to Ruairidh Jackson, head of planning and property strategy at the Co-operative Group.

Jackson, speaking at a Budget event held at Manchester Business School and co-hosted by Pro Manchester, said the growth potential coming from the rail line was phenomenal. The chord is part of the Northern Hub plan to increase capacity in the region, especially between Manchester and Leeds.

The Chancellor announced that £85m has been allocated towards the Ordsall Chord. This would allow for new connectivity for local and intercity services across Greater Manchester, potentially also linking via Salford Central and Oxford Road.

Other transport projects confirmed in the Budget included the Thornton to Switch Island Link – £14.5m for a new single carriageway road which will take traffic away from communities in Sefton and the Heysham to M6 Link Road – £110.9m for a bypass to the north of Lancaster, connecting Heysham to the M6.

The Government confirmed the previously announced £900m of rail electrification projects on lines between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool. This will be completed by 2018.

Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority welcomed the Ordsall Chord announcement as a first step towards the Northern Hub, a proposed programme of improvements to rail capacity and infrastructure around Greater Manchester that would benefit the north as a whole.

Cllr Ian Macdonald, chairman of GMITA, said: "Coming earlier than expected, this is excellent news for Greater Manchester – and for the wider north, as building the Ordsall Chord would mean faster journeys from Leeds, Liverpool, Bradford and Newcastle, would improve rail access to the Airport, and potentially provide better local connections to Manchester and Salford.

"The new line, which would be built mainly on brownfield land, would also take advantage of plans to improve Victoria and regenerate the area around it, as well as wider redevelopment in Salford and Manchester.

"It's extremely encouraging to see an early commitment from the government to the Northern Hub, something we've been working towards along with Network Rail for the past three years."

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