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Chancellor announces £300 million for Northern Powerhouse rail

Chancellor announces £300 million for Northern Powerhouse rail

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has announced an extra £300 million to improve rail services across the Northern Powerhouse area.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Mr Hammond revealed the investment will be used to help reduce journey times between Manchester and Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and York, with this producing greater connectivity to the HS2 network when it arrives in the north. 

Details of the specific projects will be announced later, but Mr Hammond remarked: "This investment will go towards ensuring HS2 infrastructure can link up with future Northern Powerhouse and Midlands rail projects - helping the towns and cities of the north reach their full potential."

Transport for the North (TfN) welcomed news of the investment, stating: "This announcement is a significant step forward in TfN's plans for the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail. It will enable much-needed transformational rail connections for the north to be delivered cheaper, faster and with less disruption."

A range of rail construction projects will not be the only work undertaken with new government funding. Mr Hammond also announced £100 million of funding for a number of local congestion relief road projects across the region, with 13 of these in the north-west and ten each in the Yorkshire and Humber and north east areas. 

The £400 million commitment was criticised as only being a "drop in the ocean" compared to what is needed for northern infrastructure, according to shadow chancellor John McDonnell. 

However, the government will hope at least some critics, if not their political opponents, will be persuaded that it is still committed to the Northern Powerhouse. Doubts were raised during the summer after planned rail electrification projects were scrapped just days before transport secretary Chris Grayling announced the government would back Crossrail 2 in London. 

Former chancellor George Osborne, a key advocate of the Northern Powerhouse, said after these announcements that the Conservatives should use their conference to announce an HS3 high speed rail link from Liverpool to Hull.

Image: Stews mum


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