Progress on TransPennine Route Upgrade "heartening," says TfN chair

Picture by Umair D on Unsplash

The chair of Transport for the North (TfN) said he was heartened by progress on the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU) programme, which is a vital component of the expanding capacity on the North’s rail network.

Speaking as the TfN Board met in Manchester to discuss the multibillion pound TRU programme, which is set to deliver major upgrades on the 70-mile route between Manchester and York, Lord McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North, said it was heartening to see government continue to move forward with TRU and to retain its commitment to the initial stages of the Northern Powerhouse Rail through funding of the Integrated Rail Plan. 

The upgrades aim to transform journeys across the North, improving connections between the region’s towns and cities through a more frequent and reliable railway.

One of the biggest issues facing the North of England remains the need to address the decades of underinvestment in our transport network: poor and unreliable connectivity is holding our people and businesses back, constraining growth, and hampering accessibility and social mobility.

Whilst some elements of the TRU programme are still in design phase, key elements of work are already being delivered including a new station with longer platforms due to open later this year at Morley and the installation of overhead electric cables between Church Fenton and Colton Junction near York.

Track upgrades through Leeds are also taking shape, as well as a full junction remodelling at Stalybridge, allowing trains to move between different lines at higher speeds, plus signalling upgrades and works for future electrification.

Lord McLoughlin said TfN's focus as a Board was on "a rail service that is reliable, resilient, and environmentally sustainable".

"We will continue to bring forward credible and affordable long-term proposals for transforming the North’s transport network," he said.

“We are pleased with the programme’s progress which demonstrates how speaking with one voice on key transport investment decisions for the region is necessary, if we are to drive inclusive and sustainable transformational economic growth and rebalance the UK economy.

“We still believe that the TRU should be wholly electrified and be fully gauge cleared for W10/W12 to support the growth in freight movements from our Northern ports, so supporting the North to reach its true economical potential.

“Transport for the North has established a clear role working alongside government, our member bodies and the wider transport sector, to deliver improved outcomes, such as those outlined in the TRU, for our residents and businesses.”

More than 33% of goods enter through the Northern ports and 25% of GB freight starts in the North.

Freight services would improve under the TRU programme, with up to 15 more freight trains per day able to use the upgraded route, which is expected to remove over 1,000 lorries off the road each day.

Members of the TfN Board also showed their continued support for the dualling of the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine, describing it as an urgently needed project in the North to address a long-standing capacity issue on our road network.

A66 is a key east-west strategic route, with a poor safety record and no viable alternative options for people or freight. TfN Members today reaffirmed their strong support for the need to dual the full route from A1 – M6.

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