The planned rail improvements around Greater Manchester this summer are generating excitement among local commuters and rail enthusiasts alike. The announcement from Network Rail suggests that the full Transpennine Route Upgrade (TPU) may soon be approved, with the Integrated Rail Plan expected to be published next month. This is a significant development for the region, as the TPU promises to deliver a range of improvements that will make travelling by train faster and more reliable.
The TPU includes electrification, digital signalling, and a doubling of the number of tracks on the most congested sections around Leeds and Huddersfield. These upgrades will enable faster trains to overtake slower ones, reducing journey times and increasing capacity on this busy route. Transport minister Andrew Stephenson has emphasised that the TPU is central to the government's commitment to improving rail journeys for passengers across the North and that the improvements will focus on improving reliability and punctuality.
The work on the rail line between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale/Stalybridge stations is scheduled to take place in the first two weeks of August and forms part of the TPU's wider goal of delivering sought-after improvements along the full 121km Transpennine route. The upgrade includes track renewal and bridge upgrades, and Network Rail suggests that the work "is the first step to enable wider improvements that are expected to bring much-needed benefits to passengers." This is a promising sign for the future of rail travel in the North, and commuters are eagerly anticipating the benefits that these upgrades will bring.
Despite the 16-day closure, direct train travel between Manchester and Leeds will still be possible, but with trains departing/arriving via Manchester Piccadilly instead of Manchester Victoria station. Passengers wishing to travel between Yorkshire to Manchester Airport/Liverpool will be able to do so but with a change of trains at Manchester Piccadilly. This may cause some inconvenience for passengers, but the long-term benefits of the TPU are expected to outweigh any short-term disruption.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has welcomed the announcement, stating that the rail route forms a vital link across the North, connecting cities and ports and supporting the regional and national economy. He added that leaders from across the North have been calling for improved connectivity for many years through High-Speed Rail, Northern Powerhouse Rail, and improved Transpennine connections and that this work should be seen as just the start of a transformational investment in rail across the North, supporting the government's levelling up agenda and ensuring a better recovery from the pandemic.
Overall, the planned rail improvements around Greater Manchester this summer and the potential approval of the full Transpennine Route Upgrade represent a significant investment in the region's transport infrastructure. These upgrades have the potential to make a real difference in commuters' lives, improving reliability, reducing journey times, and increasing capacity on one of the North's busiest rail routes. With the support of local leaders like Andy Burnham, it seems likely that further investment in rail across the North will follow in the coming years, paving the way for a brighter future for rail travel in the region.