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Northern leaders urge government to publish Integrated Rail Plan

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Leaders of Transport for the North (TfN) have called on the government to publish the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the North and Midlands as soon as possible, to avoid delays to delivery of schemes including Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in the North.

They say publishing the report is also critical to address congested hotspots on the North’s rail network today, as well as addressing the short and medium-term projects such as the Transpennine Route Upgrade.

The IRP is seen as a key pillar of the levelling-up agenda. It’s anticipated to detail the level of infrastructure spend over the coming decades; how major projects will integrate; and when and how they’ll be delivered.

Tim Wood, TfN.

Tim Wood, interim chief executive at Transport for the North, said the IRP is needed now to give confidence that promised schemes will be delivered, in turn creating thousands of new jobs, boosting the region’s economy to aid recovery from the pandemic and helping cut carbon emissions.

“It’s now critical that the government publish the Integrated Rail Plan so the North can plan with certainty around the railway investment that will be delivered,” he said. “We can’t risk delays to Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 arriving in the North and the economic boom both would bring – including up to 74,000 new jobs with NPR.

“Whilst the Government has committed to delivering the projects, there are question marks hanging over the detail until the Integrated Rail Plan is unveiled.

“As a co-client of Northern Powerhouse Rail with the Department for Transport, Transport for the North is ready to work closely with Government to get spades in the ground on the project as soon as possible.”

Earlier this year, the TfN Board agreed to delay submission of the business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail until the IRP was published. The Northern Powerhouse Rail network, including a mix of new and upgraded lines connecting the North’s towns and cities, is expected to:

  • Contribute £14.4 billion in annual gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy by 2060
  • Create up to 74,000 new jobs in the North by 2060
  • Take the equivalent of 58,000 cars off the road

Tim Wood added: “The IRP is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-write the story of the North’s railways and address the legacy – and resulting problems – of underinvestment we’ve seen for decades. It will not only set the long-term trajectory for rail spending, but hopefully address the short and medium-term projects we need to tackle congestion today.

“We urge the government to prioritise its publication so that work can progress on delivering the major components of a northern railway fit for the next century.”

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