The region’s transport body has detailed its preferred route for the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail project, including a line from Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington, and urged the Government to back the plans.
Construction of the line could begin in 2024 subject to Whitehall approval, according to Transport for the North.
The proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail network, aimed at boosting east-to-west connectivity in the north of England, would link up Liverpool, Hull, Sheffield and the North East.
It would also dovetail with High Speed 2, with shared track, stations and junctions in parts, to slash journey times between the cities of the North.
TfN’s detailed proposals include:
- Construction of a line from Liverpool to Manchester via the centre of Warrington
- Construction of a line 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
- Upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull
- Upgrades of the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle, via York and Darlington, and restoration of the Leamside line
The proposals have been sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps and further discussions are expected in January before the transport body lodges a formal business case for the project next March.
Once the business case is submitted, Transport for the North’s chief executive Barry White will step down after more than three years in the role.
Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail director, said the network could “deliver thousands of jobs, cut carbon emissions and slash journey times between the North’s towns, cities and beyond”.
He added: “With the need to ‘build back better’ following the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery of projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail would be transformational for the North’s economy.”
The extent of the Government’s support for Northern Powerhouse Rail and its commitment to levelling up the North will become clearer once its Integrated Rail Plan is published.
The plan outlines how investment in northern rail projects, including Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 Phase 2b and the TransPennine Route Upgrade, will be delivered. It is due to be published this year.
Wood added: “The Integrated Rail Plan is a significant moment to secure a long-term, funded infrastructure pipeline for the North. Transport for the North has been consistent that this should include HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and deliver the full ambition to transform the North.”
Wood and other regional transport experts spoke at Place North West‘s Transport + Infrastructure event on Tuesday, for which slides and a summary will be published on this website next week.