Plans for the first phase of the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) programme have been announced by Network Rail.
The programme will deliver sought-after improvements along a 76-mile route across the Pennines – from York to Manchester, via Leeds and Huddersfield.
Work will take place east of Manchester Victoria station this summer, closing the lines towards Stalybridge and Rochdale, with a 16-day railway closure between those destinations from the 31 July to 16 August 2021.
During the 16-day closure, railway workers will renew key sections of track, including around Miles Platting, and upgrade several railway bridges.
The planned closure means that, from 31 July, there will be no trains between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge and Manchester Victoria and Rochdale until these lines reopen on 16 August.
Neil Holm, Network Rail’s director for the Transpennine Route Upgrade programme, said: “The Transpennine Route Upgrade is a transformative, long-term project supporting economic growth in the North at a vital time and delivering real benefits for passengers and communities.
“A project of this size and scale means there will be times when we have to close the railway – and the 16-day closure this summer in Greater Manchester signifies one of these moments. However, working alongside train operators, we are committed to keeping passengers on a train as often as we possibly can, moving on time and in comfort. We are confident that the long-term legacy of the project will be worth the shorter-term inconvenience of the disruption.”
Despite the 16-day closure, direct train travel between Manchester and Leeds will still be possible but with trains departing/arriving via Manchester Piccadilly instead of Manchester Victoria station. Passengers wishing to travel between Yorkshire and Manchester Airport/Liverpool will be able to do so, but with a change of trains at Manchester Piccadilly.
Rob Warnes, strategic development director at Northern, said: “This is important work that absolutely needs to be done. Improving the track and infrastructure will mean more reliable journeys and in time more capacity and faster travel.
“We do recognise, however, that the closure of the line will mean customers will have a different travel experience and we want to provide as much notice of the changes as possible.
“During the 16-day closure journey times will be increased and buses will replace trains between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale affecting wider journeys between Bradford and Manchester.
Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson, said: “The Transpennine Upgrade is at the heart of our commitment to improve rail journeys for passengers across the North, focused on significantly improving reliability and punctuality.
“As we build back better from Covid-19, boosting capacity and journey times, we will work with local partners to keep disruption throughout these vital upgrades to a minimum.”