The government's commitment to the rail network is undeniably substantial, with a staggering £96 billion investment being proudly announced as the largest ever single government investment in this sector. This impressive sum has been carefully distributed across various key areas, let's delve deeper into the specific allocations:
The lion's share of £42.5 billion is dedicated to the completion of HS2, encompassing both Phase One and Phase 2a. Phase One involves the creation of a high-speed rail line connecting London to the West Midlands, while Phase 2a extends this line further from the West Midlands to Crewe. It's worth noting that a portion of this amount has already been spent since March 2020, reflecting the progress made in this ongoing project.
A substantial £17 billion has been earmarked for the HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg. This extension will carry the HS2 line from Crewe to Manchester, making notable stops at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport. Moreover, the design of the Western Leg includes the integration of the Golborne link, which will establish a crucial connection to the West Coast Main Line in the vicinity of Wigan.
Recognising the revised plans for the eastern leg of HS2, the Integrated Rail Plan introduces the concept of the 'HS2 East Core Network,' supported by a budget of £12.8 billion. This network entails the development of a high-speed line connecting the West Midlands to the East Midlands Parkway, with service provisions for Nottingham and Derby. Additionally, this core network forms the foundation of the Midlands Rail Hub scheme. The allocation also covers the electrification of the Midland Main Line, benefiting regions such as Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield via Derby. Furthermore, upgrades are planned for the East Coast Main Line, spanning from London to Leeds and the North East. As a bonus, an initial allocation of £100 million has been assigned to commence work on the West Yorkshire Mass Transit System.
The government's focus on the Northern Powerhouse Rail Core Network comes with a significant budget of £17.2 billion. Departing from the original plan, this network centres around strengthening connections between Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds. The initiative includes the construction of 64 kilometres of new tracks between Warrington, Manchester, and Marsden, accompanied by substantial upgrades and electrification along the remaining route. Electrification efforts will extend from Leeds to York, while enhancements are planned for the Calder Valley Line connecting Leeds and Bradford. Furthermore, the plan involves reinstating Warrington Bank Quay's 'low-level' platforms (6 and 7) and improving Liverpool Lime Street Station. The track between these two stations will be both electrified and upgraded.
With an allocation of £5.4 billion, the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) takes on the role of Phase 1 for the broader Northern Powerhouse Rail project. The TRU aims to facilitate NPR by undergoing significant expansion, including the electrification of the entire line from Manchester to Leeds to York. Implementation of digital signalling throughout the route and the addition of extended sections of three and four-tracking will enable faster trains to overtake one another efficiently. Gauge upgrades are also in the pipeline to support intermodal container freight services. Additionally, plans include establishing a new link to Manchester Piccadilly and expanding the capacity for additional services in the future.
The remaining £1.5 billion is allocated to smaller rail schemes in the North and Midlands until 2025. Although the specific details of these schemes are not explicitly outlined in the Integrated Rail Plan, one possibility is the electrification of the remaining sections of the Midland Main Line, benefiting areas such as Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, and Sheffield.
This comprehensive breakdown of the investment demonstrates the government's commitment to transforming the rail network across various regions. By investing in these strategic areas, the government aims to enhance connectivity, improve efficiency, and pave the way for future growth and development.