The Government today announced a far-ranging investment programme over 2014 to 2019, which includes £322m for the completion in full of the Northern Hub rail project, providing new track and capacity upgrades across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool.
In total, the Northern Hub programme has the potential to unlock £4 billion of benefits to the northern economy - a £4 return on every £1 invested.
It includes electrification of a number of rail routes, which will lead to faster journey times, and extra track on key routes which will provide extra capacity on the network to allow more services to run on lines that are currently congested.
Today's announcement follows early commitments to elements of the Hub scheme and wider electrification projects, totalling £477m.
The Government has today committed to providing:
- More track capacity between Piccadilly and Oxford Road Stations, and two new platforms at Piccadilly, allowing for more trains on this critical linkage around central Manchester. This will allow more trains to Oxford Road Station and Piccadilly stations for better access to employment, and more trains to link the north and south of Manchester and growth in usage of rail freight to serve Trafford Park.
- An extra platform at Manchester Airport allowing longer trains to serve the airport as business grows from across the north of England, supporting continued growth of the only major two-runway airport outside of the South East.
- Extra capacity on the route from Liverpool to Manchester to allow more longer-distance and commuter trains to run between Victoria, Newton-le-Willows and Liverpool.
- Extra capacity at Rochdale enabling more trains to run on the busy section for commuters from Rochdale into Manchester, and supporting further improvements in services on the Manchester-Bradford, and in future Manchester-Burnley, route.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, local authorities from across the north, MPs of all parties, the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and the Chamber of Commerce have all voiced their support for the Northern Hub.
The economic benefits are very significant, supporting:
- up to 30,000 new jobs;
- more than £4bn to the Northern economy - £4 boost for every £1 spent;
- up to 700 more trains per day with space for 44 million more people to travel by train each year, and;
- Faster trains from Manchester to Chester, Liverpool, Preston, Leeds, Bradford, Newcastle, Hull, Sheffield and Nottingham: cutting journey times on some routes by up to a third.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: "Taken together, these investments will change the face of rail services in the North of England in a manner that has not been seen for several generations.
"The Northern Hub and electrification programmes will be a catalyst to help drive economic growth across the north, so today's announcement is fantastic news and testament to the hard work done behind the scenes by all our partners to make our voice heard by the Government.
"The projects covered will provide access to larger markets, enable businesses to recruit from a wider pool of talent, enable employees to commute more quickly, and lead to greater transport flexibility and improved business efficiency.
"The programmes will also unlock further use of rail to carry goods sustainably and cost-effectively around the country - a single freight train can take 50 containers off our congested roads.
"They will also significantly improve rail services through Victoria, Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations. Stations will also see improvements in passenger facilities, including in particular a new roof and much-improved concourse for Victoria.
"This really is a fantastic day. It means we can now capitalise on the significant growth in patronage that we've seen on our rail services over the past decade, and passengers can now look to the future with real confidence that major improvements are on the way."
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Political and business leaders have been pushing for the government to commit to fully funding the Northern Hub and it's extremely welcome that they have now done so.
"Taken together, the investments which make up the Northern Hub scheme will deliver a vital improvement in the capacity and speed of our local and inter-city rail network, help unlock the economic potential of the region and contribute towards the rebalancing of the economy away from London and the South East.
"The benefits of this are vast. It is estimated that removing the obstacle to growth posed by a congested and under-efficient network will help create between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs and generate a £4 billion boost to the region's economy."
For more information on the Northern Hub programme, visit Network Rail's dedicated website here