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Rail schemes to link northern cities could cost £65bn

Costs and benefits have been submitted to the government for a series of proposed rail schemes across the North of England.

Infrastructure operator Network Rail and Transport for the North - the body representing major cities in the region - drew up the options in a report published last week.

Ministers turned up in force to support the report, which was released days before the start of the pre-election purdah period when government announcements are banned.

New routes could cost up to £65bn in total and slash journey times . A series of cheaper upgrade options was also included.

“Connecting up the great cities of the North is at the heart of our plan to build a northern powerhouse,” said Chancellor George Osborne. “This report has the potential to revolutionise transport in the North and we will work closely with Transport for the North to help make it a reality.”

Transport for the North partnership board chair Sir Richard Leese - who is leader of Manchester City Council - said: “Today marks the culmination of a huge amount of hard work to bring together a range of far-reaching transport plans which will transform connectivity across the North of England.”

Rail options identified by Network Rail and Transport for the North

Leeds to Newcastle

Current journey time: 87 minutes

New build journey time: 50 minutes; new build estimated cost: £8.5bn to £14bn

Upgrade journey time: 70-80 minutes; upgrade estimated cost: £1bn to £4bn

Sheffield to Manchester

Current journey time: 48 minutes

New build journey time: 27 minutes; new build estimated cost: £12bn to £19bn

Upgrade journey time: 39 minutes; upgrade estimated cost: £3bn to £5 billion

Manchester to Leeds

Current journey time: 49 minutes

New build journey time: 30 minutes; new build estimated cost: £6.5bn to £10bn

Upgrade journey time: 34 minutes; upgrade estimated cost: £4.5bn to £7bn

Liverpool to Manchester

Current journey time: 32 minutes

New build journey time: 20 minutes; new build estimated cost: £8bn to £13bn

Upgrade journey time: 23 minutes; upgrade estimated cost: £4bn to £7bn

Leeds to Hull

Current journey time: 55 minutes

New build journey time: 28 minutes; new build estimated cost: £5.5bn to £9bn

Sheffield to Hull

Current journey time: 86 minutes

Upgrade journey time: 60 minutes; (no costs given)

Readers' comments (3)

  • Some of the incremental time savings are small in comparison to the huge sums required. Many northern commuters would prefer to see more trains per hour, more carriages and more resilience. Can these key things be delivered with less ambitious, less costly plans and sooner? If so that would be my vote.

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  • I'm sure commuters on these routes will appreciate either additional time at home or a wider choice of places to live. And in the present digital age travel time is not necessarily lost work time.The benefit of time savings fits nicely into a cost benefit analysis. However surely this is no benefit at all to the rail operators? They require a return on the sums invested which must surely come from increased and reliable capacity.

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  • All fine and good having these reduced journey times but at what cost, is it going to be cost effective for the ordinary commuter. Services need to be integrated , frequent and reliable to give people the confidence to use them while at the same time being cost effective.

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