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Northern Powerhouse Rail routes unveiled

Words: Huw Morris

Transport for the North (TfN) has unveiled its preferred plans for a railway network to transform the region’s economy.

Its initial route plan – a combination of new lines and major upgrades to existing routes – has been submitted to the government as the official recommendation for Northern Powerhouse Rail endorsed by elected mayors, council and business leaders.

The plan includes the organisation's initial route preferences, such as new lines from Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington, Manchester to Leeds via Bradford as well as major upgrades to the Hope Valley route. It also proposes connecting Sheffield to HS2 and on to Leeds.

TfN is calling for the East Coast Main Line to be improved between Leeds and Newcastle, via York and Darlington, and the Leamside Line, which closed to passengers in 1964 and freight in the 1990s, to be reopened. Lines from Sheffield and Leeds into Hull should also be electrified.

The move comes ahead of the government’s integrated rail plan, which is due to be published before the end of the year. This is expected to set out how rail projects, including Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 phase 2b and the TransPennine Route upgrade, will be delivered. TfN’s plan will now be sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps.

“With the need to build back better following the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery of long-term, job-creating infrastructure projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail need to be a critical component of the agenda,” said Northern Powerhouse Rail director Tim Wood. “The preferred network would be transformational for the North’s economy and allow northern workers access to enhanced opportunities through a wider jobs market.

“We’ll now enter discussions with the government and look at ways in which the number of remaining options can be further shortlisted and delivery accelerated for the sake of the North’s communities and future.”

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