Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester

Passengers will benefit from a £12 billion rail investment for the North, including faster journey times and more frequent services

 The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP

On 4 October 2023, the government announced Network North – a new, £36 billion plan to improve our country’s transport. In addition to this, we confirmed £12 billion of investment to enable Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) to proceed in line with previous plans to better connect Liverpool and Manchester. As promised in the Network North announcement, the Rail Minister and I have engaged extensively with local leaders to ensure that this plan was right for them and to understand whether they wished to suggest alternative ways to achieve the objectives with that funding.

We have heard from these stakeholders in favour of continuing to serve Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport and using broadly the current route towards Manchester as part of our Northern Powerhouse Rail plans. There is also interest from local leaders in exploring further options for station design at Manchester Piccadilly and for routings into Liverpool including station options. Government remains open to considering these issues, subject, as usual, to affordability within the funding envelope, standard business case approvals and demonstrating value for taxpayers’ money. I look forward to continuing discussions on these points.

Recognising the consensus reached, I am today (25 March 2024) confirming that this will represent the basis for the next stage of development. As with any major scheme, delivery will be subject to securing consent and the approval of future business cases. Further, while the consensus reached will form the primary option that we work from, government will continue to assess alternatives which meet the objectives of NPR in line with standard requirements for business case approvals. Any scheme must be affordable and demonstrate value for money for the taxpayer while seeking to support the rail capacity needs of central Manchester and deliver faster journey times and better connectivity across the Pennines.

On this basis, I will be continuing to promote the High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill as the fastest possible means of consenting the first part of that route into Manchester. Subject to the will of the House, the government will seek to adapt the Bill to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail only, removing scope south of the Parish of Millington and Rostherne, which was included only for High Speed 2 (HS2). The adaptation of the Bill from HS2 to NPR and removal of HS2 scope from the Bill would prompt a further environmental assessment to be produced which would include revised construction impacts with a view to reducing impacts where possible.

In line with these plans, HS2 Phase 2b safeguarding will be amended by summer 2024, to allow for any safeguarding needed for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

From: Department for Transport and The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP