So What is in UK Government’s New Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands?

© AP Photo / Ian ForsythBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Network Rail hub in Selby, Yorkshire
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Network Rail hub in Selby, Yorkshire - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.11.2021
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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told Parliament the eastern leg of the second phase of the HS2 railway will run as far as Nottingham, not Leeds. But what does the government’s new rail plan say in detail?
Boris Johnson is fond of big ideas and ambitious new infrastructure projects which hark back to the height of the British Empire when engineers like George Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel transformed the British Isles and created railways which were the envy of the world.
But in his foreword to the new Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, the prime minister writes: “In my discussions on HS2 last year, I was struck by what one of my parliamentary colleagues, Lee Anderson MP, told me: that his constituents in Ashfield (in Nottinghamshire) would have to watch the high speed trains go through at 200mph without stopping when what they really wanted was a decent bus service to the next town.”
The government’s new plan tones down many of their original plans - such as HS2 going all the way to Leeds - and delivers instead smaller, more local services.
But it still represents an investment of £54 billion, on top of the £42 billion which has already been earmarked for taking HS2 from London as far north as the important railway junction town of Crewe.

HS2 London to Manchester

The government is going ahead with the second phase of HS2, extending the high-speed railway from Crewe up to Manchester.
There will be new stations at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
The plan says: “HS2 trains will run from London to Manchester in 1 hour 11 minutes.”
It plans to run between five and seven HS2 trains per hour through Crewe, where they can connect with services for North Wales, Cheshire and Staffordshire.

HS2 Birmingham to Nottingham

The original plan was for HS2 to divide at Birmingham and an eastern leg to transport passengers at high speed to Leeds, the biggest city in Yorkshire and a key economic hub.
But the new plan is for the eastern leg to stop at East Midlands Parkway, a new station six miles from Nottingham.
This new station is three miles from the previously proposed stop at Toton.
HS2 trains will then be able to go on - at lower speeds - on the upgraded and electrified Midland Main Line to Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, and Sheffield.
HS2 trains will run from London to Sheffield in 1 hour, 27 minutes.

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR)

The term “northern powerhouse” was coined by former Chancellor George Osborne and refers to cities like Manchester and Leeds, which are leading an economic resurgence in the north of England.
In 2019 the Prime Minister promised a new railway linking Manchester and Leeds.
But Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps have now scrapped plans for a new line from Liverpool to Leeds via Manchester and Bradford. They say it would have cost an extra £18 billion and would have only saved four minutes.
Instead the NPR will run on mainly existing - but upgraded - lines from Liverpool to York, via Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds.
The new service would take 33 minutes to get from Manchester to Leeds, cutting the travelling time by 22 minutes.

Upgrading Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line - which runs from London to Nottingham - will be upgraded and electrified.
This will benefit people living in Leicester, Loughborough and Derby, who were unaffected by HS2.

Upgrade East Coast Main Line

The Department for Transport said “it is unlikely HS2 would be able to serve York and North East England as previously promised without compromising existing services.”
Instead the East Coast Main Line - which run from London’s King’s Cross station to York, Newcastle and on to Edinburgh - will be upgraded and speeded up.
Digital signalling is promised and improvements to the power supply to allow trains to run at up to 140 miles per hour.
They estimate this would shave off between 15 and 25 minutes of travelling time.

Metro System for Leeds

Leeds is currently the largest city in western Europe without a metro or light rail network connecting it with its suburbs.
The government has promised to pump in £200 million to start work on planning the West Yorkshire Mass Transit System “with the first services operational in the second half of this decade,” in other words between 2025 and 2029.

Bringing Tap-In Train Travel to the North

Oyster cards were first introduced in London by the Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone in 2003 and allowed people to swipe a pre-paid card at turnstiles to gain access to a station.
They automatically calculate how much a passenger has paid when they swipe the card at the other end.
Since then the technology has improved to allow commuters to use their debit or credit cards or an app on their smartphones.
The Rail Plan promises to introduce tap-in and tap-out payments over three years and estimate it would be used in more than 100 million passenger journeys a year in the North and Midlands.
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