Prime Minister Boris Johnson has backed plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester, pledging to fund the central section of the proposed link across the North of England.
In a speech in Manchester on 27 July, on just the third day of his premiership, Mr Johnson said he wants to be the Prime Minister ‘who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did for Crossrail in London’. The Prime Minister said he had tasked officials to accelerate plans for the Leeds to Manchester section ‘so that we are ready to do a deal in the autumn’, and pledged to fund the Leeds to Manchester stretch. Detailed plans are expected to be published following the review into HS2 the PM has commissioned, being carried out by Douglas Oakervee.
NPR is a pan-regional project connecting cities across the north, involving stretches of new and upgraded track and linking with HS2, providing increased capacity and reduced journey times. While the Manchester to Leeds stretch is the central plank of the proposed network, Transport for the North envisages lines stretching from Liverpool to Hull and Newcastle.
Admitting that ‘it takes a while to build a railway’, Mr Johnson called in the shorter-term for ‘reliable, everyday services’.