UK Transport Secretary trebles investment for rail in the north to more than £9bn

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Rail passengers in the north of the UK are set for a major boost as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has more than trebled the investment for TransPennine route upgrades (TRU), which is set to reduce carbon emissions by up to 87,000 tons per year.

The increase in funding, from £2.9 billion to more than £9 billion, is set to strengthen TRU and Northern Powerhouse Rail – a major strategic rail program to improve rail connectivity between the North’s major economic centers – transforming an already ambitious project to a ‘gold standard’ and delivering on the UK Government’s priority of Levelling Up the country.

The full route will be fitted with the latest technology, from complete electrification and full digital signaling, to increased capacity along the route for passenger and freight services between Huddersfield and Westtown in Dewsbury, doubling tracks from two to four.

A further £959 million of funding has been released to progress the next phase of TRU between Manchester and York. The almost £1 billion will be spent on the remaining electrification of the railway between Stalybridge and Manchester and unlocking shorter journey times and TransPennine rail freight flows, with electric trains between Manchester and Stalybridge expected to hit the tracks around the middle of the decade.

Transport Secretary Shapps said, “Through our record-breaking integrated rail plan, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to redesign the railways and it’s only right that we deliver this in line with the best quality technology at our disposal.

“By trebling the overall investment in the TRU, I’m ensuring the north is at the forefront of the government’s Levelling Up agenda and guaranteeing passengers gold standard services set to deliver greener, faster and reliable services through Northern Powerhouse Rail, electrification and additional train tracks,” he added.

TRU is a major investment being made in the railway between York and Manchester via Leeds and Huddersfield – the 76 miles (122 km) northern route over the Pennines.

Once complete, the TRU is expected to deliver multiple benefits, delivering an extra two passenger trains every hour and additional hourly freight slots. Upgrades are expected to service more reliable journeys and slash journey times by up to 40%. Northern Powerhouse Rail will be fully electrified, improving the local environment and air quality across the north.

The TransPennine route upgrade, announced in November 2021 as part of the integrated rail plan, will be hitting the tracks from 2025.