TRANSPORT Secretary Chris Grayling will today announce he expects a £3bn programme of upgrades to the Transpennine route to begin by spring 2019.
He says it will deliver significantly better journeys for passengers and driving economic growth in the region
I want to realise passenger benefits from the £3bn we have ring-fenced for the Pennine route as fast as possible.Chris Grayling
Mr Grayling will also announce that an Independent Affordability Review, commissioned by the Department for Transport and Transport for London, has been established to ensure that Crossrail 2 demonstrates affordability and value for money to the taxpayer.
Speaking at the Transport for the Northern Powerhouse conference in Leeds, Mr Grayling says that while work is underway on the key route between Manchester, Leeds and York, he expects Network Rail to begin investing the £3bn into an ambitious rolling programme of works as soon as possible.
Mr Grayling will say today: “I want to realise passenger benefits from the £3bn we have ring-fenced for the Pennine route as fast as possible. Network Rail has already begun detailed designs, and provided us with options for the Transpennine Route Upgrade to meet the objectives we’ve set out - for journey times, capacity and reliability.”
The Transport Secretary will also commit to working with local authorities along the Transpennine route to discuss how to maximise the benefits of the investment, such as creating new stations.
Responding to the announcement, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, said: “The ring fencing of £3bn for the Pennine route is to be welcomed, with huge opportunities along the line.
“We will be asking the Secretary of State to also go further and start building the upgraded link to HS2 south from York to allow these upgrades in coming years to deliver the final Northern Powerhouse Rail requirements between York and Leeds. T
“This will avoid returning to this vital piece of infrastructure a decade later - which every passenger from the North East heading to Leeds as well as Manchester relies on - and is a way to deliver key east to west network improvements sooner, at a reduced final cost.
“Northern Powerhouse Rail is vital for the economic performance of the whole country. The Pennine upgrades today will keep the Northern Powerhouse moving towards higher productivity until the new line from Leeds and Bradford City Centre to Manchester is finished, which should be delivered at or before HS2 is completed.
“That would mean a child born in the North last year will turn 16 and should have every college – from nuclear in West Cumbria to High Speed Rail in Doncaster – in their reach.”