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Government promises £3.9bn post-HS2 Northern rail boost

Railways across the North will get a near £4bn boost to bring faster and more frequent journeys, the government has said.

The government has pledged £3.9bn to accelerate the Transpennine Route Upgrade between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds, and York.

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

The announcement comes after the high-profile cancellation of the planned HS2 route between Birmingham and Manchester in October.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the cancellation by promising to reallocate the money to other transport schemes, including the Network North project to join up Northern cities by rail and a Midlands Rail Hub to connect 50 stations.

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 trains.

The project is due to be completed in the mid-2030s, by which point there will be up to eight trains an hour, with hundreds of extra seats and the journey time between Manchester and York cut 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 brings 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.”

Ultimately, however, we still have at least 10 years to wait until we see the full benefits of the investment so, as ever, we wouldn’t advise holding your breath while waiting for a train from Manchester to Leeds.

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