£589m upgrade for Transpennine mainline

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has given the green light to the project that will see more frequent trains betweenLiverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle. Tony McDonough reports 

Transpennine Express
Transpennine Express trains at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station


A £589m project to upgrade the Transpennine railway line will see more frequent trains with more capacity running out of Liverpool across the north of England.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has given the green light to the scheme which could also offer greater freight capacity in the region, welcome news for the Port of Liverpool is it looks to attract more sea-borne cargo operators to the Mersey.

Most of the Transpennine line is to be electrified, allowing all-electric services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, offering longer and more frequent trains on the route.

The most congested section of the route will be doubled from two to four tracks, allowing fast trains to overtake slower ones, improving journey times and reliability for passengers across the north of England.

Mr Shapps is also announcing the establishment of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council, dedicated to accelerating vital infrastructure projects and better connecting communities across the north’s towns and cities.

Improved freight capacity is now also under consideration as part of an Integrated Rail Plan due to report in December.  Upgrades to allow more freight on the route, replacing thousands of diesel lorry journeys with electric freight trains, will be considered.

“People across the north rightly expect action, progress and ambition, and this Government is determined to accelerate improvements as we invest billions to level up the region’s infrastructure,” said Mr Shapps.

“We are determined to build back better at pace, and this new council will allow us to engage collectively and directly with elected northern leaders to build the vital projects the region is crying out for.”

The announcement was welcomed by Greater Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham, who said: “This feels like a gear change from the Government in the delivery of transport improvements in the north of England and I welcome the new drive that the Transport Secretary is bringing to this. 

“People here deserve a modern, reliable public transport system and it is my hope that the Northern Transport Acceleration Council will bring forward the day when that is a reality. It is crucial that the council listens to the voice of the north and is accountable to people here through their elected politicians and bodies such as Transport for the North.”

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