18 Nov 2021
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:
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:
The upgrading or electrification of three existing lines:
The freeing up of money to improve local services and integrate them properly with HS2 and NPR:
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.
Notes to editors
KEY IRP BENEFITS BY REGION
WALES AND SOUTH WEST