Boris Johnson to 'turbo-charge' the North with major boost for Leeds-Manchester rail link

Boris Johnson is set to announce plans for a major upgrade of the Leeds-Manchester rail link, as he vows to overhaul the region’s network and "turbo-charge" growth in the North.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking selfies with supporters.

In one of his first major domestic policy announcements since entering Number 10, Mr Johnson will reiterate his commitment to the ambitious £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail Project, which will link the Northern cities from Liverpool to Hull.

And he will promise detailed plans for the first stage of the scheme from Leeds to Manchester by the Autumn, following a review into the Government’s high-speed rail project HS2.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ahead of a speech in Manchester, Mr Johnson heaped praise on the Power Up the North campaign launched last month by The Yorkshire Post alongside 32 other regional titles, which demanded a detailed commitment from Westminster’s political leaders to tackle the North-South divide.

Mr Johnson said: “The Power Up the North campaign demonstrates the dynamism, the ambition and the resolve of newspapers across the North to improve the lives of their readers, and of local businesses and political leaders to drive real change.

“Today I’m wholeheartedly backing the campaign and setting out how my government will narrow the North-South divide, and unleash the power of our great regions.”

He added: “I have a plan to unleash the productive power of the Northern Powerhouse, lift up our forgotten towns and communities, and make them places where people can thrive with safe streets, strong connectivity, good housing, excellent education and sustained investment.

“That way we can build on the region’s great history, deliver prosperity and opportunity for generations to come – and truly power up the North.”

As he outlines plans for new intercity rail routes, the Prime Minister is expected to say: “I want to be the PM who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did with Crossrail in London.

“And today I am going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route.

“It will be up to local people and us to come to an agreement on the exact proposal they want – but I have tasked officials to accelerate their work on these plans so that we are ready to do a deal in the autumn.”