Government commits £3.9bn to accelerate Transpennine Route Upgrade

Image by Sam B on Unsplash

The government has announced a £3.9bn funding boost for the Transpennine Route Upgrade.

Announced by Rail Minister Huw Merriman today (December4), the Transpennine Route Upgrade will be accelerated through the cash injection, leading to quicker journey times, reduced carbon emissions and more reliable services between key northern cities. 

Once complete, the full route will offer significantly improved services on the route between Manchester-Huddersfield-Leeds-York with rail users benefiting from a fully electrified line, accessible stations and more frequent services.  

With work already well underway on the project, today’s announcement means the government has invested a total of £6.9b into the upgrade, with the initial £3bn funding work to deliver early benefits by the middle of the decade, such as the electrification of tracks.  

Further funding will be confirmed by the department as the project progresses to support the overall cost of up to £11.5bn

The project also underpins the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), which the government recently strengthened its support for by pledging a further £12bn into its delivery to better connect Liverpool and Manchester.

Bradford and Hull are also being brought into the NPR scheme, using savings from HS2. 

The new Bradford station will support regeneration efforts in the UK’s seventh-largest city and facilitate a new rail connection to Manchester via Huddersfield - almost halving journey times while enabling us to double the frequency of services and double the capacity with up to an extra 1,000 seats per hour.

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 multi-billion-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 announced today 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 journeys. 

Once complete in the mid-2030s, the upgrade will offer up to eight trains per hour, hundreds of extra seats and cut journey times between Manchester and York by 10 minutes.   

The investment will also support digital signalling along the route to allow trains to run closer together, leading to more frequent and reliable services. 

It will support TransPennine Express in engaging with manufacturers on options for up to 29 new trains to replace the existing diesel fleet, in addition to new trains for local stopping services operated by Northern, ensuring trains along the line are suited to the modernised tracks. 

Neil Holm, managing director for the Transpennine Route Upgrade, said: “Transpennine Route Upgrade is well underway with building the infrastructure that bring 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. It brings us one big step closer to delivering the future of rail travel in the North of England.”

The regional economy will also benefit from the project, with thousands of jobs and apprentice roles created, carbon emissions reduced by 108,000 tonnes a year and up to 15 extra freight trains able to travel per day - taking more lorries off the road and delivering people’s goods quicker.     

Darren Oldham, Transport for the North’s director of rail and road, added: “This is a major milestone for the TRU project as it upgrades a key rail corridor across the North, bringing improvements for passengers and extra capacity for freight.

"TfN has been working with partners for some years to bring forward these benefits, which will lay the foundations for further transformational development from Northern Powerhouse Rail.  

“We fully welcome the investment in this corridor as it will improve journey times, reliability, capability and capacity between Manchester and York via Huddersfield and Leeds. It will also reduce the pressure on the road network, particularly the M62 between West Yorkshire and Manchester.”

The continued support for the Transpennine Route Upgrade underpins the government’s Network North Plan - a £36bn long-term scheme to improve the country’s transport in the North and Midlands across roads, buses and railways.

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