TRANSPORT FOR the North has published its draft Strategic Transport Plan, a 30-year vision for the region’s transport needs.
A 13-week consultation on the plan is now taking place. TfN says the plan could deliver a £100 billion economic boost and 850,000 additional jobs by 2050. The plan identifies seven ‘corridors’ of opportunity and the road and rail improvements that would be required on each.
The plan is the first formal confirmation of TfN’s emerging vision for Northern Powerhouse Rail, which it calls ‘a rapid, reliable and resilient rail network between the North’s six biggest cities and other economic centres’. As we have previously reported (p19, November issue), this envisages new lines between Manchester and Leeds via Bradford and between Liverpool and the HS2 Manchester spur via Warrington.
The Hope Valley line between Sheffield and Manchester would see ‘significant upgrades’, as would routes from Sheffield and Leeds to Hull, while Leeds and Sheffield would be linked by Phase 2b of HS2 and an upgrade of the route north from Sheffield. Leeds and Newcastle would be linked by a junction onto HS2 and an upgraded East Coast main line. The aim is to provide capacity at Manchester Piccadilly for eight through services per hour. TfN says further development work is ongoing to understand the options and case for a new line or significant upgrades between Manchester and Sheffield and to refine options and build a business case for the whole network.
The NPR vision is accompanied by an updated rail strategy for the North’s existing services, reflecting the planned integration of Rail North (which co-manages the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises with the Department for Transport) into TfN in April. TfN has also commenced a rolling programme to introduce smart ticketing across the region.