Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has given the go-ahead for a £589m project to upgrade the Trans-Pennine mainline which will see more frequent trains with greater capacity running out of Liverpool across the north of England, between Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, York and Newcastle.
The scheme, which could also provide greater freight capacity in the region, is welcome news for the Port of Liverpool as is it looks to attract more seaborne cargo operators to the Mersey.
Much of the Trans-Pennine route is to be electrified and the most congested section of will be increase twofold from two to four tracks, allowing faster trains to overtake slower ones, thus improving journey times and reliability for passengers across the whole of the north of England.
Mr Shapps also announced the establishment of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council (NTAC) devoted to accelerating critical infrastructure projects and connecting better, communities across the north’s towns and cities.
Improved freight capacity is also under consideration as part of an ‘Integrated Rail Plan’ due to report in around December, with upgrades to allow more cargo on the lines, potentially replacing thousands of diesel lorries with electric freight trains.
“People across the north rightly expect action, progress and ambition, and this Government is determined to accelerate improvements as we invest billions to level up the region’s infrastructure,” said Mr Shapps. We are determined to build back better at pace, and this new council will allow us to engage collectively and directly with elected northern leaders to build the vital projects the region is crying out for.”
The Minister’s announcement was welcomed by Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Metro Mayor who said: “This feels like a gear change from the Government in the delivery of transport improvements in the north of England and I welcome the new drive that the Transport Secretary is bringing to this. 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 is a reality. It is crucial that the council listens to the voice of the north and is accountable to people here through their elected politicians and bodies such as Transport for the North.”
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