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£477m For Greater Manchester Rail Network

Welcome boost - but Hannah Mitchell Foundation have reservations

Published on July 18th 2012.


£477m For Greater Manchester Rail Network

GREATER MANCHESTER’s transport leaders have welcomed an historic package of investment in its rail network, which will change the face of services in a manner not seen for several generations.

More track capacity between Piccadilly and Oxford Road Stations, and two new platforms at Piccadilly, allowing for more trains. This will allow more trains into Oxford Road Station and Piccadilly stations

The Government this week announced a far-ranging investment programme over 2014 to 2019, which includes £322m for the completion in full of the Northern Hub rail project, providing new track and capacity upgrades across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool.

In total, the Northern Hub programme has the potential to unlock £4 billion of benefits to the northern economy – a £4 return on every £1 invested.

It includes electrification of a number of rail routes, which will lead to faster journey times, and extra track on key routes which will provide extra capacity on the network to allow more services to run on lines that are currently congested.

This week’s announcement follows early commitments to elements of the Hub scheme and wider electrification projects, totalling £477m.

Castlefield RailCastlefield Rail

The Government has committed to providing:

• More track capacity between Piccadilly and Oxford Road Stations, and two new platforms at Piccadilly, allowing for more trains on this critical linkage around central Manchester. This will allow more trains into Oxford Road Station and Piccadilly stations for better access to employment, and more trains to link the north and south of Manchester and growth in usage of rail freight to serve Trafford Park.

• An extra platform at Manchester Airport allowing longer trains to serve the airport as business grows from across the north of England, supporting continued growth of the only major two-runway airport outside of the South East.

• Extra capacity on the route from Liverpool to Manchester to allow more longer-distance and commuter trains to run between Victoria, Newton-le-Willows and Liverpool.

• Extra capacity at Rochdale enabling more trains to run on the busy section for commuters from Rochdale into Manchester, and supporting further improvements in services on the Manchester-Bradford, and in future Manchester-Burnley, route.

Rail Plans: not all good news Up North 

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation has given a guarded welcome to the Government’s plans for rail investment - but highlighted some major gaps affecting the North of England.

“The Government's plans for rail investment contain much welcome news and reflect the effectiveness of the lobbying power of the Welsh devolved government,” said General Secretary Paul Salveson. “Not only getting electrification to Swansea but also the entire Valleys network, is great news. However, we suspect that many of the displaced, and life-expired, diesel trains will find their way ‘up North’ to operate un-electrified local services in Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and the North-East”.

Centres such as Humberside, Tees-side and Barrow do not feature in the electrification plans. Middlesbrough MP Tom Blenkinsop has accused the Government of ‘gross neglect’ in not including Middlesbrough in its electrification plans. Hull does not get slated for electrification either. It will have to make do with an hourly diesel service to Manchester, according to the Department for Transport’s ‘illustrative options’.  The important route from York to Scarborough doesn’t feature in electrification plans either and the ‘illustrative option’ is for an hourly service from the resort to Leeds, Preston and Blackpool, losing the important link to Manchester.

Linda Riordan, President of the Foundation and MP for Halifax, said the announcement didn’t go far enough. “We need a plan to replace worn-out diesel trains; it isn’t realistic to expect every mile of track to be electrified. We need a visionary plan for the North’s railways which would dovetail with economic regeneration strategies. And that needs to come from a devolved Northern Government which understands the needs of the regions.”

The Foundation has expressed concern that some important routes outside the main conurbations risk losing out heavily. “There are serious concerns in Cumbria that the busy Furness Line services from Barrow to Manchester Airport will be truncated at Lancaster forcing passengers to change onto already busy trains from Scotland,” said Paul Salveson. “Middlesbrough is another example of a major conurbation which risks being reduced to branch-line status”.

The Foundation shares the concerns expressed by the rail unions that the McNulty report into railways poses a threat to rail passengers. “Many rail passengers outside the main centres could face a triple whammy of higher fares to pay for the investment, loss of staffing at stations, and poorer links to the main cities,” said Linda Riordan. “We very much share the concerns of the rail unions that behind the apparent good news, there is a looming threat to many of our rail services. We need a publicly-owned railway which is accountable to the people of the North of England.”

The Foundation was formed early in 2012 to stimulate debate on regional devolution for the North of England as a whole. Its patrons include Lord Prescott and several MPs across the North of England. It is a membership-based organisation open to all who agree with its objectives.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DavidJuly 18th 2012.

Why is this Hahhah Mitchell Foundation being quoted on this article,which is headlined to be about Greater Manchester Rail?.
You are so biased at Manchester Confidential, this is a ethical socialist foundation you are presenting to your readers as being a non partisan group.That is a blatant untruth.
You are truly in the pocket of Labour.

AnonymousJuly 18th 2012.

"In total, the Northern Hub programme has the potential to unlock £4 billion of benefits to the northern economy – a £4 return on every £1 invested."

What rubbish!

1 Response: Reply To This...
SmittyJuly 18th 2012.

Why is it rubbish? Improving infrastructure always delivers economic benefit. It's Economics 101.

DavidJuly 18th 2012.

Really Smitty.It not seem to have done that in Spain.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
SmittyJuly 19th 2012.

Actually major infrastructure projects in Spain like its five high speed rail lines were instrumental to the country's prior success before its subequent economic collapse. As I say, Economics 101. The New Deal's WPA is the most famous example of it...

DavidJuly 19th 2012.

Spain's economic bankruptcy was caused to a large degree by its huge spending on such projects.Many of which have turned out to be a complete waste of money,such as the abandoned airport near Madrid

It's the city, duffusJuly 20th 2012.

You are so ignorant it hurts, David.

It isn't Spain that is bankrupt but the Spanish banks (please note the difference), due to reckless lending for building projects no one wanted to live in, but everyone wanted to leverage against.

Having a decent transport infrastructure is a great step towards living in the first world: Japan, Germany, France all not only have good trains, but HS trains. It makes them beat the competition hands down.

Why is it so difficult to get HS2 in Britain? Is it because we are lining private cronies in the process?

Why does it cost a billion quid to build a project like the Wembley stadium, when you can build THREE better ones for less on the continent?

Cronyism and blatant rip-off. We need to get a grip.

DavidJuly 24th 2012.

Sorry Duffus Spain is bankrupt,and most of it devolved regions are even more bankrupt.
If you were not so stupid Duffus,you might have noticed that the objections to HS2 are mostly nimbism,it's got nothing to do with private companies.

It's the city, duffusJuly 26th 2012.

Nimbism is overruled as soon as society sees fit to do so - just look at how Stratford was cleared for 2012, or Hulme was demolished twice in 50 years...

The bitter truth is that there is no money in the pot to finance HSanything and nimbism is just an excuse for doing nothing until this changes. Why is there no money? Because Britain is ALSO BANKRUPT, just printed another £50bn, where did all the money go?

I agree with you that infrastructure projects and investment often appear to favour the London region (just look at the ludicrous Thames Estuary Airport proposal), instead of connecting ENGLAND better with itself.

Matt RigbyJuly 19th 2012.

They have got to upgrade the Northern diesel trains. How is it acceptable in 2012 to have to pay extortionate fares to get on these cattle wagons?

Even if we did get upgraded trains, they'd just be the cast offs from the South.

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