The Prime Minister has today set out plans for a new high speed rail connection between Leeds and Manchester as part of a wider programme to revitalise transport and improve connectivity in the North of England.

In a wide-ranging speech in Manchester this morning, the Prime Minister committed to funding a high-speed rail connection between Manchester and Leeds, and promised greater powers to city mayors and council leaders similar to those seen in London in order to give them greater control over their regional economies and promote economic growth.

In response, the National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt said:

“Travellers in the North have been crying out for a serious upgrade to their intercity rail network – as the Commission first recommended in 2016.

“Poor infrastructure inhibits growth. Investment to improve capacity, reliability and reduce travel times can play a valuable role in helping drive prosperity across the North.

“The PM’s decision today must be integrated with plans for HS2, and matched with devolved funding and powers for city leaders in the north – as set out in our National Infrastructure Assessment.”

The Commission’s High Speed North report in 2016 identified that the North of England needed very significant investment and a long term plan for transformation, including development of the Northern Powerhouse Rail, in order to reduce travel times, increase capacity and improve reliability on an already over-stretched route.

The report recommended kick-starting transformed rail connections on both sides of the Pennines, integrating them with HS2, and planning for the redevelopment of the North’s gateway stations.

The National Infrastructure Assessment, published in July 2018, recommended additional funding and devolved powers for regional leaders to develop urban transport strategies that support thriving city regions across the country.