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Transport for the North reveals £70bn plan to overhaul roads and rail

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Transport for the North (TfN) has published its final £70bn strategic transport plan (STP) and investment programme in which it sets out its “ambitious vision” to transform the North’s economy over the next 30 years.

Improvements to major highways between the North’s biggest cities, plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and an overhaul of current railway  stations and routes are among the priorities.

The first draft of the plan was published in January last year, but it has been subject to an “extensive” period of consultation.

The plan in expected to be formally approved next week, after which it will become a statutory document.

TfN said the plan and the new investment programme would “rebalance decades of underinvestment and transform the lives of people in the North”.

The plan sets out plans for new and improved transport connections needing short, medium and long term investment.

Over the next five years, rail enhancement work will be focused on the Trans-Pennine route upgrade, with improvements concentrated on the corridor between Manchester and Leeds. Targets for journey times of 40minutes between Leeds and Manchester and 62 minutes between York and Manchester have been set and upgrades to stations along the route are also planned.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s proposals to capitalise on connectivity with High Speed 2 (HS2) will focus on improving the capacity and frequency of links between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington and Manchester Airport using the HS2 infrastructure and a new integrated Northern Powerhouse Rail/HS2 station.

Plans to build a new hub station at Manchester Piccadilly are also included as well as upgrades to the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle by connecting it to HS2 are also proposed, as are and upgrades to the existing line from Leeds to Hull (via Selby) and Sheffield to Hull (via Doncaster).

TfN said east to west road connectivity was a significant barrier to future growth and that it wants to improve journey reliability and quality, as well as network efficiency and resilience.

TfN said it wanted to see an increase of around £50 per head spent on strategic transport each year by 2050.

The plans will now be considered by TfN’s board, which will meet on 7 February in Chester. If they are approved, TfN will officially launch them on 11 February.

The proposals will become TfN’s advice to government on the ongoing priorities for enhancing sustainable and inclusive connectivity across the North.

TfN chief executive Barry White said: “The Strategic Transport Plan is a hugely important document for the North. It is our vision for a prosperous pan-Northern future and outlines how investment in transport could transform our economy.

“Our Investment Programme outlines how an additional investment of around £50 per person in the North, per year, could play a part in unlocking a £100bn increase in economic activity and create 850,000 new jobs.

“This final Plan will be a statutory document written by the North, for the North, and will be our blueprint to deliver transformational change and leave a legacy for future generations.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • TfN's new strategic plan tries to tackle how most intercity journeys in the north are slow and unreliable. It shows how HS2 Phase 2b and the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) Programme can transform rail speeds and economic performance.

    The key intercity link is between Leeds and Manchester, which currently takes 46 to 58 minutes for the 34 miles by rail. Online rail upgrades are a welcome first step, but only reduce that to 40 minutes, which is only 51 mph, and cannot radically improve train frequency.

    That's why more radical improvements providing 6 trains per hour and cutting times to 25 minutes are needed within 20 years and shown in the Plan. They are as important to the North's economy as Crossrail 2 is to London's and other elements of the planned National Infrastructure Plan.

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