Integrated Rail Plan: £96 billion to level up railways across the North and Midlands

Now we do have the details of the Integrated Rail Plan: £96 billion to level up railways across the North and Midlands

The Conservatives were elected on a promise to level up and create better transport connections for our towns and cities now – we cannot afford to stick to outdated plans and wait decades to deliver the change needed.

That is why, through our Integrated Rail Plan, we are bringing forward the single biggest investment in the history of our rail network – £96 billion for the North and Midlands – which will improve everyday journeys for rail passengers, bring communities closer together, and create jobs – all ten to fifteen years sooner than previously planned.

Levelling up cannot wait – this Plan delivers on our promises to the North and Midlands now; with more punctual, frequent, and reliable journeys for people wherever they live.

Through our Integrated Rail Plan we will build three new high-speed rail lines:

1) The HS2 Western Leg from Birmingham to Crewe and Manchester, with new stations at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. 

  • Journey times from Manchester to London will be cut by almost half – to just 1 hour 11 minutes. 
  • Journey times from Birmingham to Manchester will be cut by two fifths – to just 51 minutes. 

2) A new high-speed line from the West Midlands to East Midlands Parkway, meaning direct high speed rail services to Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, and Sheffield.

  • Journey times from London to Nottingham will be cut by over a third – to just 57 minutes. 
  • Journey times from Sheffield to London will be cut by a quarter – to just 1 hour 27 minutes.
  • Journey times from Nottingham to Birmingham will be cut by two thirds – to just 26 minutes.

3) A new high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and Yorkshire, forming the heart of Northern Powerhouse Rail, combined with upgrades on existing lines to deliver NPR services from Liverpool to Leeds via Manchester.

  • Journey times from Liverpool to Manchester Piccadilly will be cut by a third – to just 35 minutes.
  • Journey times from Leeds to Manchester Piccadilly will be cut by a third – to just 33 minutes.
  • Journey times from Liverpool to Manchester Airport will be cut by two thirds – to just 26 minutes.

We will also upgrade or electrify three existing lines:

  • Rapidly upgrading the East Coast Main Line, benefiting the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, bringing benefits to communities far sooner than originally planned.
  • Fully electrifying the Midland Main Line, beginning work by the end of this year to electrify a new section of the line between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  • Fully electrifying and upgrading the Transpennine Main Line, going well beyond previous plans, and improving journeys between Manchester and Leeds – even before the new high-speed Northern Powerhouse Rail line opens.

In total, more than 75 per cent of the country’s main rail lines will be electrified, improving the journeys hundreds of thousands of people take every day by making them faster, quieter, more reliable and more environmentally friendly.

This Plan will free up funding so we can improve local services:

This will include a new mass transit system for Leeds and West Yorkshire, backed by £100 million to start work on the metro, righting the wrong that Leeds is the largest city in Western Europe without a mass-transit system. 

We will also look again at the most effective way to run HS2 trains to Leeds. A great deal of commentary in the media about this link being scrapped is oversimplified and premature.

The Prime Minister said "We'll look at how to get HS2 to Leeds too, with a new study on the best way to make it happen."

The plan will also include 

  • Taking forward the western section of the Midlands Rail Hub, bringing fast intercity trains from South Wales and the South West to run to Birmingham Moor Street, for seamless interchange with HS2.
  • Rolling out London-style contactless ticketing across the North and Midlands, backed by £360 million ending queues and confusion as people automatically get charged the best fare, and rolling out of contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing to around 700 stations in urban areas, including around 400 in the North.

Our Plan delivers more benefits to more people, more quickly:

More benefits. With almost every destination benefiting from similar – and in several cases faster – journey times from London and across the North. Cities in the East Midlands will now also get direct HS2 services, making a journey from London to Nottingham 26 minutes faster than under the old plans.

More people. Having stood to gain little under previous plans, places like Huddersfield, Doncaster, Wakefield, Leicester, and Loughborough will now all benefit from improved services. Our plan also rolls out contactless ticketing, and kicks off work on a new West Yorkshire mass transit system. 

More quickly. Original proposals would have seen the first Northern Powerhouse Rail trains running in 2043 – our plan brings this forward by a decade, with significant improvements on the Transpennine Route before then. Electrification of the Midland Main Line will also start this year – with places like Sheffield and Chesterfield seeing the benefit in the next ten years, rather than in the 2040s.

Most of this post is about the positive things the government is doing, but it is only fair to ask - where does the opposition actually stand and what is their record?

Labour cannot credibly both oppose the whole HS2 project and then accuse the Conservatives of "betrayal" because we have not yet confirmed - and are looking again at - one spur of that project which was in the original plans. 

And yet the opposition leader previously said he opposed HS2 and that its impact would be ‘devastating’. He said

‘I oppose HS2 on cost and on merit: it will not achieve its stated objectives. The impact of HS2 on my constituency … will be devastating’.

So does he still take that position or does he agree with what his party's representatives have been saying today about the spur to leeds. It's a case of "pick one - you can't have both."

The last Labour Government electrified just 63 miles of track in 13 years – compared to 1,110 miles under the Conservatives so far. Labour did not find the money to make our railways fit for the twenty-first century. 

Under Labour, only 5,720 new train carriages were delivered – the Conservatives have delivered more than 8,000 in less time. Between 1997 and 2009, 5,720 new carriages were delivered. Between 2011 and 2021, we have already delivered 8,073 new carriages.

Today's announcement confirms £96 billion of investment in a massive upgrade to public transport in the North and Midlands. It is a great shame that is has been misreported as if this announcement was some kind of cutback.


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