Construction Enquirer News Government sets up new mayoral and council body to speed up northern infrastructure plans

The Government has today committed to spend £589m to kickstart work on the Transpennine main line between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester.

It will also establish a new transport body in the north of city mayors and key councils to accelerate vital infrastructure projects to better connect the North’s towns and cities.

This new Northern Transport Acceleration Council looks set to supersede activities of the Transport for the North body.

The Northern Transport Acceleration Council, which will be chaired by Transport Secretary and Northern Powerhouse Minister Grant Shapps, will hold its first meeting in September.

Announcing the push to bring fresh impetus to the Government’s plans for the North, Shapps said that the most congested section of the Transpennine route would doubled from two to four tracks with most of the line to be electrified.

Full electrification, digital signalling, more multi-tracking and improved freight capacity are now under consideration as part of an ‘Integrated Rail Plan’ due to report in December.

These improvements will allow all-electric services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, bring longer and more frequent trains.

Improvements to allow more freight on the route, replacing thousands of diesel lorry journeys with electric freight trains, will also be considered in the plan.

Work is also underway to tackle the bottlenecks at either end of the route.

Leeds station is being resignalled and a new platform is being built. In central Manchester, development funding was awarded last month to tackle rail congestion.

The council launched today will ensure northern leaders have a direct line to ministers and has been formed with the desire to cut bureaucracy and red tape so passengers can get the modern, reliable transport network they deserve as quickly as possible.

Shapps said: “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.

“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.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, 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.”

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