Government confirms major railway enhancements

The Uppermill or Saddleworth viaduct in Oldham was completed in 1849. Its 22 arches carry the Transpennine route over the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and two roads.

The Department for Transport has confirmed funding for three key areas of railway infrastructure enhancement that will benefit passengers and freight operators across the North and Midlands.

A total of £317 million will be invested in the Transpennine route upgrade, which will boost punctuality, reliability and connectivity for passengers between York, Leeds and Manchester.

Grant Shapps MP, Transport Secretary.

In addition, £69 million has been pledged for improvements to increase freight capacity between the Port of Southampton and the Midlands, to boost economic growth, and £15 million will be released from the New Stations Fund to build new stations at Marsh Barton in Exeter and White Rose and Thorpe Park in Leeds, to connect communities, support retail growth, improve access to employment and leisure, and support greener travel choices.

Announcing the funding, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Modernising and upgrading our vital transport links is critical to levelling up every part of this country, unleashing our economy and spreading opportunity as we build back better.

“Following closely after our reforms to deliver a modern, green and innovative railway that meets the needs of the nation, this package of £401 million investment will help deliver reliable, punctual services that passengers across the UK can count on.

Chris Heaton-Harris, Rail Minister.

Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, who was visiting Kettering station at the time of the announcement, to see how major government funding is already introducing more modern services for passengers, added: “The scale of today’s investment demonstrates our commitment to delivering more punctual, greener and comfortable services right across the country.

“From the vital Transpennine and Midland main line upgrades, new stations giving communities in Yorkshire and the south-west rail connections for the first time, and a shot in the arm for freight operators, we’re building a brighter future for the railways.”

The bulk of the new funding into the Transpennine route upgrade will be used to improve connectivity between Leeds, Manchester and York, and deliver electrification and upgrades between York and Church Fenton. As one of the busiest stretches of track in the North, with over 100 trains passing through each day, these works will improve reliability and enable new and upgraded hybrid trains to run under electric power.

Andrew Stephenson MP.

Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson visited work already taking place along the Transpennine route in Yorkshire, including at Leeds, Hambleton and Colton, to see electrification works that form an important part of the government’s agenda to achieve zero carbon by 2050. He said of the funding announcement: “Additional investment into the Transpennine Route Upgrade will cut delays and create a more punctual network, with electrification helping deliver greener journeys on this key route.

“Only by investing in, modernising and expanding our railways can we provide passengers with the reliable and resilient services they expect, and create a transport network that is fit for the future.”

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