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There have been a number of recent announcements and comments made by the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, relating to rail infrastructure projects in the North of England. These include formal announcements of details of the route for HS2 north of Birmingham and changes to planned electrification of the Midland Mainline and Oxenholme to Windermere railway lines, and remarks made in a press conference which seem to call into doubt previous commitments to the Northern Hub and TransPennine Upgrade programmes.
Transport for the North is committed to delivering long term economic benefits to the North through transforming connectivity. Rail infrastructure plays an important part in this commitment.
David Brown, CEO of Transport for the North, says: “It is vital that the North get the outputs which were originally committed from the TransPennine route upgrade and the Northern Hub, which included increased capacity and journey time improvements. Full delivery of these outputs is the baseline upon which we are planning the Northern Powerhouse Rail network. Any changes to the TransPennine route upgrade and the Northern Hub need to be both evidence-based and complimentary to longer term Northern Powerhouse Rail aspirations.”
Nigel Foster, Strategy Director, for Transport for the North, said: “We have seen some big decisions coming out of Government recently with important long-term implications for the North of England and the nation as a whole. A key affirmation by the Government is firstly, the commitment to HS2 in the North itself, and also the pledge to ensure that work on the northern sections of HS2 are planned and aligned with Northern Powerhouse Rail. Transport for the North has also welcomed the Government’s commitment to ensure that the potential of Crewe as a ‘Hub Station’ is fully realised with the announcement of a consultation on the future of Crewe Station.
“We have always made clear that we strongly support the proposals for High Speed Rail, which will provide transformational connectivity between the North and London and the Midlands. It is heartening to have this commitment to HS2 in the North re-affirmed.”
There is considerable synergy between HS2 and Transport for the North’s plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and it wants to work with colleagues at HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport to develop both. Foster said: “We believe NPR improves the business case for HS2, and there will be long term benefits for the economy by aligning the HS2 and NPR networks and services.”
Transport for the North is continuing to develop its Strategic Transport Plan and make the case for investment in the northern transport network, to deliver transformational connectivity and economic benefits, as set out in the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review.