Northern Hub clears final funding hurdle

The Government said it will fund the 'completion in full of the Northern Hub cluster of rail enhancements' with £322m from the £9bn rail programme announced on Monday.

The cash will pay for outstanding track and capacity upgrades across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool. The funding is in addition to £477m of Northern Hub schemes already approved across the North of England such as electrification of the North Trans Pennine route between York and Manchester.

The Government has today committed to providing:

  • More track capacity between Piccadilly and Oxford Road Stations, and two new platforms at Piccadilly, allowing for more trains on this critical linkage around central Manchester. This will allow more trains to Oxford Road Station and Piccadilly stations for better access to employment, and more trains to link the north and south of Manchester and growth in usage of rail freight to serve Trafford Park.
  • An extra platform at Manchester Airport allowing longer trains to serve the airport as business grows from across the north of England, supporting continued growth of the only major two-runway airport outside of the South East.
  • Extra capacity on the route from Liverpool to Manchester to allow more longer-distance and commuter trains to run between Victoria, Newton-le-Willows and Liverpool.
  • Extra capacity at Rochdale enabling more trains to run on the busy section for commuters from Rochdale into Manchester, and supporting further improvements in services on the Manchester-Bradford, and in future Manchester-Burnley, route.

Cllr Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: "Taken together, these investments will change the face of rail services in the North of England in a manner that has not been seen for several generations.

"The Northern Hub and electrification programmes will be a catalyst to help drive economic growth across the north, so today's announcement is fantastic news and testament to the hard work done behind the scenes by all our partners to make our voice heard by the Government.

"The projects covered will provide access to larger markets, enable businesses to recruit from a wider pool of talent, enable employees to commute more quickly, and lead to greater transport flexibility and improved business efficiency.

Graham Botham, Network Rail's principal strategic planner for London North Western, said: "The government's decision to support full funding of the Northern Hub is excellent news for passengers across the north, who will enjoy faster, more frequent services: up to 700 extra a day. The project demonstrates how investment in infrastructure can unlock economic potential by better connecting towns and cities – it will deliver £4bn of benefits to the Northern economy and create between 20,000 and 30,000 new jobs. The project will also create the capacity for 44million more passenger journeys a year, whether for leisure or business – a welcome boost to allow the northern economy to continue to thrive."

Network Rail has been leading the argument for Northern Hub for several years and sets out the benefits as follows:

  • Two new fast trains per hour between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool
  • Six fast trains an hour between Leeds and Manchester (as opposed to four now)
  • Journey times between Leeds and Manchester could be reduced by about 10 minutes
  • Journey times between Liverpool and Manchester could be reduced by 10-15 minutes
  • New direct service through Manchester city centre to Manchester Airport
  • Faster journey times to Sheffield and the East Midlands, Chester, Bradford, Halifax, Hull, Newcastle and the North-East

Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, said: "Investment on this scale, in every region of the country, shows how this coalition government is focused on delivering an affordable, reliable and faster railway network that drives jobs and growth."

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