Rail in the north is set to be transformed over the next 20 years in plans set out by Network Rail today.
‘A bright future for rail in the north’ is an ambitious manifesto in which Network Rail sets out its vision for the long-term. Train operators Northern and First TransPennine Express have been working alongside Network Rail on the strategy for the future of rail travel, and the manifesto document includes:
· Double the number of fast and semi fast services between major cities in the north
· Quicker journeys
· High speed rail reaching major cities in the north
By 2020 Network Rail wants to make rail the preferred choice for commuters and businesses right across the north, with faster, more frequent and comfortable journeys helping to attract more people and jobs to the north.
Chief Executive, Iain Coucher said: “Rail plays a vital role in the economy of Great Britain and the north is no different. We have to meet the ambitions of people and businesses and give them the railway they want and deserve.
“By running more trains, more often with more seats, we want to win even more passengers from the motorways.
“Big and small businesses have shown their appetite for growth in the north, and we’ve got to give them the rail links to match.”
The railway in the north of England has already seen unprecedented growth in recent years. In the north west, passengers journeys increased by 20% between 1999 and 2005, and in the Yorkshire and Humber region the growth was a massive 60% in the nine years to 2007/8.
This growth is set to continue with a predicted 44% increase in peak hour travel between Liverpool and Manchester by 2018, and 50% increase over the same period for Yorkshire and the Humber.
Over the next year, Network Rail will set out precisely how it intends to meet the ambitions of the north:
· The ‘Rail in the north’ study to be published in January 2010 will set out the key infrastructure improvements Network Rail needs to put in place before 2020
· The ‘Northern Route Utilisation Strategy’ (RUS) will explain how we make the best use of the network
· The next new lines study will look at the business case for dedicated high speed lines to Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle.
Improvements to the rail network could bring economic benefits to the north of England of between £12bn and £16bn over the next 60 years.