Department for Transport News

18 Nov 2021

Integrated Rail Plan: biggest ever public investment in Britain’s rail network will deliver faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys across North and Midlands

Integrated Rail Plan: biggest ever public investment in Britain’s rail network will deliver faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys across North and Midlands: IRP Mix Graph for Media
  • The Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) will see the biggest ever Government investment in Britain’s rail network, with a £96bn package of rail construction and upgrades for the Midlands and the North
  • Plan delivers a modern network that will benefit passengers far sooner than previously planned, with many improvements expected this decade – levelling up more quickly
  • Building three new high-speed lines, the IRP will transform rail services – boosting inter-city connections

The biggest ever public investment in Britain’s rail network is announced by the Government today (Thursday 18 November), with £96 billion to deliver faster and better journeys to more people across the North and the Midlands, similar to or more quickly than under earlier plans.

Transforming connectivity, the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) published today will transform both east–west and north–south links, building three new high-speed lines, improving rail services to and between the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West, including:

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will connect Leeds and Manchester in 33 minutes, down from 55 minutes now.
  • HS2 East will run direct from central Nottingham to Birmingham in 26 minutes, down from 1 hour 14 minutes now, and from central Nottingham to London in 57 minutes. HS2 will also run from London to Sheffield in 1 hour 27 minutes.
  • HS2 West will run from London to Manchester in 1 hour 11 minutes and from Birmingham to Manchester in 41-51 minutes, compared to 86 minutes today.

To most destinations on the HS2 and NPR core routes, both from London and across the Pennines, journey times will be the same as, similar to or faster than the previous proposals – with improvements being delivered for communities across the Midlands and North up to a decade sooner and to more places. Capacity on key routes will also double or treble under the plans.

Under earlier plans, smaller towns on existing main lines such as Doncaster, Grantham, Huddersfield, Wakefield, and Leicester would have seen little improvement, and in some cases even their services cut back. The IRP will protect and improve these crucial links and will deliver improvements with far less disruption to local communities. And on both local train lines and inter-city links, rail passengers will benefit from tangible changes, seeing more seats, shorter journeys, and more frequent and more reliable services.

As well as the new high-speed lines, the IRP fully electrifies and upgrades two diesel main lines – the Midlands Main Line and the Transpennine Main Line – as well as upgrading a third main line – the East Coast – with higher speeds, power improvements and digital signalling to slash journey times.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“My mission is to level up opportunity across our country, which is why we’re making train journeys faster and more reliable through the biggest ever public investment in our rail network.

“This is because better rail connections are essential for growing local economies and businesses, and our Integrated Rail Plan will deliver better services to more people, more quickly.

“Levelling up has to be for everyone, not just the biggest cities. That’s why we will transform transport links between our biggest cities and smaller towns, ensuring we improve both long-distance and vital local services and enabling people to move more freely across the country wherever they are.” 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Our plan is ambitious, deliverable and backed by the largest single government investment ever made in our rail network. It will deliver punctual, frequent and reliable journeys for everyone, wherever they live.  

“Just as the Victorians gave this country our railways nearly 200 years ago, this Integrated Rail Plan will create a modern, expanded railway fit for today and future generations. Significant improvements will be delivered rapidly, bringing communities closer together, creating jobs and making places more attractive to business, and in doing so, rebalancing opportunity across the country. 

“Our plans go above and beyond the initial ambitions of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail by delivering benefits for communities no matter their size, right across the North and Midlands, up to 10 to 15 years earlier.” 

For Northern Powerhouse Rail, we have chosen the first of the options put forward by Transport for the North in 2019, a mixture of newbuild high-speed and upgraded conventional line. TfN's options for full newbuild high-speed line were carefully studied but would have made journeys between Leeds and Manchester only four minutes faster at a cost of an extra £18 billion, and would have taken up to a decade longer to deliver.  

The package of investment confirms:

Three new high-speed lines, covering 110 miles:

  • Complete HS2 from Crewe to Manchester, with new stations at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. 
  • A new high-speed line between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway. Trains will continue to central Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield on an upgraded and electrified Midland Main Line.
  • Delivering NPR through a new high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and Marsden in Yorkshireas in the first of the options originally put forward by Transport for the North in 2019. 
  • A study to look at the best way to take HS2 trains to Leeds, including capacity at Leeds Station. 

The upgrading or electrification of three existing lines:

  • The complete electrification of the Midland Main Line from London to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.
  • A programme of rapid upgrades to the East Coast Main Line to the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East. Journey times will be up to 25 minutes faster than now.
  • Full electrification and upgrade of the Transpennine Main Line between Manchester, Leeds and York as part of delivering the first phase of NPR, installing full digital signalling, with longer sections of three and four-tracking to allow fast trains to overtake stopping services, and increase through passenger services by 20%. An additional £625m in new funding has been confirmed today to progress the Transpennine Route Upgrade.
  • In total, electrification of more than 180 miles of route, meaning that 75% of the country’s main lines will be electric, to meet the ambition of removing all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040, as part of our commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050.

The freeing up of money to improve local services and integrate them properly with HS2 and NPR:

  • A new mass transit system for Leeds and West Yorkshire, righting the wrong that Leeds is the largest city in Western Europe without one. There will be £200 million of immediate funding to plan the project and start building it, and we commit to supporting West Yorkshire Combined Authority over the long term to ensure that this time, it gets done.
  • Separately, we could halve journey times between Bradford and Leeds, to be as low as 12 minutes.
  • Greater connectivity benefits between the West and East Midlandsin comparison to previous plan and progressing work on options to complete Midlands Rail Hub, dramatically increasing local services through central Birmingham and across the Midlands and connecting them better to HS2.
  • Investment to deliver a programme of fares, ticketing and retail reform including the roll out of contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing at commuter stations in the Midlands and North, ending ticket queues and tackling confusion about fares by automatically ensuring that you are charged the best price. The Government will also drive towards rolling out digital ticketing across the whole network.

The new plans, using a mixture of new-build high-speed line and upgraded conventional lines, were drawn up after it became clear that the full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail schemes as originally proposed would have cost up to £185 billion and not entered service until the early to mid-2040s.  

Building on the expert findings of wide-ranging internal and independent analysis, including from the National Infrastructure Commission, the plan will deliver better outcomes for passengers in a faster and more efficient way than under original plans for the schemes.  

Contact Information

Esme Montgomery

Notes to editors

Notes to editors 

  • The IRP is not a complete list of planned rail investments in the North and Midlands. Other future investments, such as medium-term capacity improvements and “Beeching” reopening projects such as the Northumberland Line, are separately funded and are not included in the document.
  • In February 2020, the Oakervee review recommended undertaking a review of major transport schemes to produce an Integrated Rail Plan for the north and Midlands, to ensure schemes like HS2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub, and other major Network Rail schemes are scoped, designed, delivered, and can be operated as an integrated network. 
  • The terms of reference for the Integrated Rail Plan state that it is framed by the government’s commitment to bring forward transformational rail improvements along the HS2 route as quickly as possible, and would take into account value for money, levelling up, affordability and deliverability considerations. 
  • Investment to deliver a programme of reform to the customer experience of fares, ticketing, and retailing includes:
  • Roll out of contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing on rail to commuter stations across the country
  • Work to roll out digital ticketing across the whole rail network 



    • A new HS2 high speed line will be constructed from Crewe to Manchester. A hybrid Bill for this section of the route, the Phase 2b Western Leg, is being prepared.  
    • New stations will be built at Manchester Airport (subject to local funding contribution) and Manchester Piccadilly for HS2 and NPR services. 
    • Northern Powerhouse Rail will run high-speed services from Manchester to Leeds in 33 minutes and Manchester to Liverpool in 35 minutes, doubling capacity to Leeds and more than trebling capacity to Liverpool.


    • We will deliver an ambitious programme of upgrades to the East Coast Main Line, including installing digital signalling and making station upgrades, to improve journeys to Leeds and the North East much sooner than under previous plans. This will reduce journey times from London to the North East, for example, cutting London-Newcastle journeys by 21 minutes. 
    • Northern Powerhouse Rail will run from Newcastle, the Tees Valley and York to Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. Passengers travelling from Newcastle to Manchester by rail will see their journeys reduced by 22 minutes. 


    • Delivering heart of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will connect Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, with around 40 miles of continuous new high-speed line, reducing Manchester-Leeds journey times to 33 minutes.
    • Full electrification of the Transpennine Main Line. 
    • HS2 will run from Sheffield to London in 1 hour 27 minutes, the same as under the previous plans.
    • A speeded, upgraded East Coast Main Line will cut journey times from Leeds to London by 20 minutes.
    • We are committing £200m to start work on the new West Yorkshire mass transit system (Leeds metro) and we will look at the most effective way to run HS2 trains to Leeds including capacity at Leeds Station. 
    • Under the IRP, train journeys from Birmingham to Leeds will be reduced by 29 minutes, and passengers will see a doubling in the number of services. 
    • Bradford will see quicker journeys on several routes under the Integrated Rail Plan, with the potential to significantly improve journey times between Bradford and London.


    • New HS2 line between the West and East Midlands will enable high speed services to Derby and Nottingham in under an hour from London and less than 30 minutes from Birmingham. 
    • HS2 services will run to the heart of Nottingham and Derby, rather than a parkway stop between them.
    • Electrification of the Midland Main Line will be completed so that high speed services can reach Chesterfield and Sheffield. 
    • We will progress work on options to complete Midlands Rail Hub, significantly increasing local services in central England and connecting them better to HS2.
    • We will accelerate transport improvements at Toton, such as a station for local/regional services, with delivery subject to significant private sector investment – on a 50:50 match-funded basis with the taxpayer – coming forward at the site and developer contributions. We will also accelerate plans for the East Midlands development vehicle, following on from the Government’s initial announcement in October 2019. 


    • Much of North Wales will be brought within little more than two hours of London through interchange with HS2 at Crewe.
    • The Midlands Rail Hub will allow seamless interchange at Birmingham between HS2 and long-distance services from South Wales and the South West, reducing Bristol- Manchester journey time by at least an hour.


    • Services to Glasgow and Edinburgh will be around approximately 50 minutes faster than now via HS2 and the West Coast Main Line.
    • Services to Edinburgh 42 minutes faster than now because of upgrades to the East Coast Main Line.