Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today announced an investment worth up to £11.5 billion for the Transpennine Route Upgrades (TRU), which had been a £2.9 billion project on services between Manchester and York, via Leeds.
Mr Shapps said the extra investment would see the route fitted with the latest technology including complete electrification, full digital signalling and extra tracks.
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He said: “This is the single biggest investment any government has ever made in Britain’s railways. It’s right up there and probably beyond what the Victorians were doing.”
He said services on the train line had not “kept pace with the times” but the upgrade would make them more reliable, less crowded, better for the environment and more like commuting in London and the South East.
The improvements will see a journey from Manchester to Leeds take just over 30 minutes, instead of up to an hour, according to Mr Shapps.
He said: “What I’ve been determined to do as Transport Secretary these last three years is really address this historic lack of balance between some of the spending in the South and what happens in the North.
“So to give you an example, now the north will receive more money per head than the Midlands or the South.
“That means that in the North, there’ll be about 14% more spent per head of population than nationally.
“So for the first time ever, we’re seeing greater expenditure in the North. That’s a real reverse of the previous situation and it’s all part of our plan to level up the whole country.”
Almost £1 billion of the investment will be released to progress the next phase on electrification of the railway line between Stalybridge and Manchester.
Mr Shapps added: “This entire investment, of which I’m announcing the next £1 billion of it today, will be worth up to £11.5 billion in total and it will revolutionise that journey across the Pennines.”
The funding is the first detailed expenditure from the £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan investment, Mr Shapps said.
Once the upgrade is in place, from 2025, commuters can expect an extra two passenger trains every hour and journey times up to 40 per cent shorter.
The work is intended to set the foundations for Northern Powerhouse Rail, a programme to boost east-west connections across the North.