A new Trans-Pennine rail route between Manchester and Leeds has been promised as the new Prime Minister set out a domestic agenda to turbo-charge regional growth and prosperity.
In a speech in Manchester, Boris Johnson reaffirmed that one of his top domestic priorities will be to level out opportunities, and unlock the potential not just of London and the South East - but of every corner of the UK.
Pledging new intercity rail routes, with Manchester to Leeds as the first step, the Prime Minister said:
'I want to be the PM who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did with Crossrail in London...I am going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route. It will be up to local people and us to come to an agreement on the exact proposal they want – but I have tasked officials to accelerate their work on these plans so that we are ready to do a deal in the autumn.’
Reaction to his planns were mixed, according to Place North West. Northern Powerhouse Rail was already due to feature in Autumn’s Government Spending Review, and Johnson’s pledge for funding has been welcomed by many Northern transport bodies and developers, it noted. Yet Transport for the North’s wider vision is also expected to include a new line from Liverpool to Manchester Airport and Crewe. However, this was not mentioned in the Prime Minister’s speech.
As a result, reaction from Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram was muted, with the mayor arguing the Liverpool to Manchester leg of the scheme was 'by far and away the most readily deliverable section and the one that can be built fastest', said Place North West.
Henri Murison of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership claimed Johnson’s announcement was a 'seminal moment' for the North.
Building on his commitment to rebalance power, growth and productivity across the UK. the Prime Minister set out his vision for delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail. The first step will be the Manchester to Leeds route, with detailed plans published this autumn, following the review into HS2.
The new route is expected to cut journey times significantly and provide additional capacity for people across the region.
But the Prime Minister will also be clear that his focus will not just be about major infrastructure projects.
He also pledged to improve the unglamorous local services which people use every day, such as buses, saying it is about services within cities, not just services between cities.
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