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Friday, 20 March 2015

Clegg's plan to improve rail links in the north

The Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will today set out new plans to revolutionise travel in the north, including a new "TransNorth" rail system and road investments. A report released today by the government and Transport for the North (TfN), sets out a long term strategy to connect up the north, create a single economy and allow northern towns and cities to pool their strengths.

The plans include slashing journey times between major northern cities with investment in high speed rail, developing new east-west road connections including a road tunnel under the peak district and introducing Oyster-style smart travel cards and simpler fares across the North. The report builds on the concept of High Speed 3 to connect the great cities of the north with a network of high quality rail connections.

This ‘TransNorth’ network – with sections capable of speeds up to 140mph - would link Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull. With such a network journey times between Liverpool and Manchester could be as low as 20 minutes; Manchester to Sheffield and Leeds could both be 30 minutes; Leeds to Hull could be just 45, and Sheffield to Hull 50 minutes. Journey times from Manchester to Newcastle could be cut by 25 per cent.

Making the announcement Nick Clegg is expected to say: "As part of my Northern Futures plan, I listened to what people wanted and have taken decisive action. I’ve already pledged to rid the region of rattling old pacer trains, introduced smarter ticketing in Sheffield and increased capacity on commuter services. All of this will ensure the North can race ahead in a stronger economy and doesn't become one big bottleneck.

“I'm extremely proud to be announcing this new strategy which will be transformative for the region. Modernising rail in the North and speeding up connections between cities will encourage business, boost tourism and give commuters the transport network they deserve.” Mr Clegg is expected to add.

Commenting on Nick Clegg's transport plans for the North of England, Rupert Read, Transport Spokesperson for the Green Party, said: "This announcement packages up some already-announced road-building plans with a more speculative wish-list of rail-expansion plans. But that gets things completely the wrong way around. Green priorities would be for the road plans to be scrapped and the commitment to rail to be stronger, firmer, and clearer."

"What this country needs is not yet more roads, increasing our dependence on an expensive and carbon intensive form of travel, but real and rapid investment in our railways, delivering a public service we can be proud of and that is run in the interest of passengers. That can only be achieved by bringing railways back into public hands. Now that would be a real renaissance for rail, in the North and countrywide." Mr Read added.