UK infrastructure manager Network Rail will seek public opinion on major rail upgrades to the TransPennine route in northern England.

The TransPennine route runs from Manchester, Leeds and York. Journey times between Leeds and Manchester are expected to be reduced to approximately 40 minutes following the upgrade.

The infrastructure manager will consult people living in proximity to the railway between Huddersfield and Westtown, Dewsbury, as part of the planning and development process for the proposed 13km route upgrade.

The upgrade is part of the £2.9bn ($3.5bn) investment programme that will increase the number of tracks to four.

The plans also include improving Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe stations, electrification of the rail system, and construction of a bridge or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe, which will separate two sections of track.

Network Rail principal programme sponsor Kieran Dunkin said: “The Transpennine upgrade will deliver the benefits passengers want from their railway with more reliability, more trains and more seats, and shorter journey times.

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“The eagerly anticipated upgrade of the Transpennine Route is approaching the final stages of development, and asking passengers and our neighbours for their feedback on our plans for the section between Huddersfield and Westtown is a significant and important next step in that development process.”

Feedback received from the public consultation will form part of a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO), which will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport in 2020.

A TWAO is a legal permit required when building railway infrastructure beyond the existing operational railway boundary.

Network Rail is expected to complete the first phase of consultation by the end of October and the feedback will be compiled.

The communities will be re-consulted early next year before the final submission is sent to the Secretary of State. A final decision is expected in 2022.

Work covered as part of the proposal will commence immediately if the proposal is approved.