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November 18, 2021

UK unveils new Integrated Rail Plan for Midlands and the North

A new high-speed track will be launched between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway.

The UK Government has announced the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) involving a £96bn ($129.41bn) investment to upgrade rail services in the Midlands and the North.

This package is said to be the ‘biggest ever’ government investment in the rail network in the UK.

The funds will be utilised to modernise both east to west and north to south connections, enhancing rail services to and between the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West, and establishing three new high-speed tracks.

The high-speed line will complete HS2, stretching from Crewe to Manchester, and a new line will be laid between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway.

In addition, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will provide services through a new high-speed line, which will cover Warrington, Manchester, and Marsden in Yorkshire.

As stated in the IRP, the Midlands Main Line and the Transpennine Main Line will be modernised and completely electrified, while the East Coast Line will undergo digital signalling and power improvements.

New funding of £625m ($842.48m) has also been declared to support the Transpennine Route Upgrade.

A study will be conducted in order to explore the best way to take HS2 trains to Leeds, along with the introduction of a new mass transit system for Leeds and West Yorkshire.

For the planning and construction of the project, nearly £200m ($269.59m) will be provided as immediate funding.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Just as the Victorians gave this country our railways nearly 200 years ago, this Integrated Rail Plan will create a modern, expanded railway fit for today and future generations.

“Significant improvements will be delivered rapidly, bringing communities closer together, creating jobs and making places more attractive to business, and in doing so, rebalancing opportunity across the country.

“Our plans go above and beyond the initial ambitions of HS2 and NPR by delivering benefits for communities no matter their size, right across the North and Midlands, up to 10 to 15 years earlier.”

Last month, the UK Government allocated £46bn ($63.23bn) for rail investment in the Autumn Budget 2021 and Spending Review.

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