UK’s Network Rail has awarded new contracts to two alliances to conduct rail upgrade projects along the Transpennine route between York and Manchester.

The new project is intended to provide faster, longer and more frequent rail services across the north of England, from Newcastle, Hull and York towards Manchester and Liverpool via Leeds.

An alliance between Network Rail, Amey, BAM Nuttall and Arup has secured a deal to design infrastructure options for the route.

The agreement covers upgrades to civils, track and railway systems, as well as electrification to be carried out along the West of Leeds network.

West of Leeds alliance manager Tim Ketteringham said: “The Transpennine route upgrade is a major programme of rail improvement that will have a real and lasting impact on people and communities in the North of England for generations to come:  connecting towns and cities, improving journey times and supporting economic growth.”

Network Rail has agreed to work in collaboration with the alliances from the earliest stages of the development of the potential infrastructure options for the Transpennine route enhancement.

“Transpennine route upgrade is a major programme of rail improvement that will have a real and lasting impact on people and communities in the North of England.”

The company is expected to submit the options to the UK Department for Transport (DfT) for consideration in December.

Network Rail London North Eastern and East Midlands Route Sponsorship director Paul McKeown said: “We are focussed on developing the potential infrastructure enhancements that will lead to faster, more frequent and more reliable train services across the North and will submit these to the DfT at the end of the year.”

The current contracts have been awarded as part of the Great North Rail Project, which in turn forms part of the UK’s wider Railway Upgrade Plan.

The new upgrades are expected to benefit passengers, communities and economies across the Pennines.