Manchester Piccadilly station

Rail upgrades for the North West, but local leaders want more

The government have announced that there is to be a much-needed upgrade to the train journey between York and Manchester, via Leeds and Huddersfield, as well as plans to triple the budget. Despite this upgrade, local government leaders want more, with their ambitions being for more investment in rail travel in the north.

The upgrades are set to eventually make the journeys between Leeds and Manchester around half an hour long, which would see travel times halved, as well as reducing the carbon emissions by introducing more electric trains arriving in the coming years.

The original budget was around £2.9 billion; however, it has been increased to around £10-£11 billion. Speaking about this increase of budget, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said:

"This isn't just a bit of extra funding; it's tripling or even quadrupling the funding; And it's not because the project's run over budget or something like that, it's because the plan is now way more ambitious than the thing that was being talked about in 2011."

With this increase in investment, there are set to be major improvements to the standard of rail travel in the north, however Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor, has said that promises have been broken in terms of the ways that the improvements will be delivered:

“We’re glad to hear that it is receiving extra funding, but it was never the case that that alone sorts out the rail problems of the North.

We were promised a completely new line to Leeds and its completely new line to Leeds and it’s obviously hugely disappointing that that commitment is going to be met. Doing Piccadilly right has got to be the best way to level up Manchester and the North.

If you look at what has been spent on stations in London in the last decade, how we can be arguing about a few billion pounds for Piccadilly, I honestly don’t know.”

The disappointment surrounding plans for Manchester Piccadilly station come as local authority leaders have been calling for a underground, high-speed, station below Piccadilly, right in the centre of Manchester.

With the rail and other travel improvements coming across the country as part of the government’s levelling up scheme, this development will be welcome for those in the area, however there is still a way to go for the north’s ambitions of the Northern Powerhouse Rail to become a success, especially after the scaling back of the spending last year.

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