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Government pledges almost £4 billion to improve rail links in northern England

A TransPennine Express train at Leeds train station (PA)
A TransPennine Express train at Leeds train station (PA)

The Government has pledged £3.9 billion for a rail project which will improve connectivity in northern England.

The cash injection will accelerate the Transpennine Route Upgrade between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds, and York – which will bring faster and more frequent journeys, the Government said.

It has already invested £3 billion into the project which is expected to deliver electrified tracks by the middle of the decade.

The announcement comes after the planned HS2 route between Birmingham and Manchester was axed earlier this year.

UK Parliament portraits
Rail minister Huw Merriman (David Woolfall/UK Parliament)

In November, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would “repurpose” the money for the proposed HS2 route to deliver mass transit in Leeds.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “The Transpennine Route Upgrade represents the first major step in delivering transformed east-west connectivity in the north and I’m delighted to announce this multibillion-pound funding boost to move to the next stage of delivery.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates this Government’s commitment to delivering its Network North plan which will improve journeys, help to level up regions and grow the economy.”

The funding will be invested in doubling the number of tracks from two to four between Huddersfield and Ravensthorpe, allowing faster trains to overtake slower stopping services and freight journeys.

Once complete in the mid-2030s, the upgrade will offer up to eight trains per hour, hundreds of extra seats and cut journey times between Manchester and York by 10 minutes, the Government said.

The investment will also support digital signalling along the route to allow trains to run closer together, leading to more frequent and reliable services.

Neil Holm, managing director for the Transpennine Route Upgrade, said: “Transpennine Route Upgrade is well under way with building the infrastructure that bring passengers more frequent, faster, greener trains, that run on a better, cleaner and more reliable railway for generations to come.

“This commitment by the Government to our programme allows us to move two of our largest projects from design into construction and delivery.”