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Chancellor unveils the start of £600m rail investment in the north of England

Friday 7 Feb 2014

North West & West Midlands

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has officially launched a £600m investment programme which will transform the railway and boost the economy in the north of England.

George Osborne MP marked the start of construction of a fourth platform at Manchester Airport station today (7 February), the first phase of a project which spans the north of England.

The £600m Northern Hub project will provide significant long-term benefits to passengers and help stimulate economic growth in the region by providing faster, more regular and reliable connections between towns and cities.

Alongside Network Rail’s electrification programme, more than £1bn will be invested in the railway in the north of England by 2019.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, said: “The government’s long term plan is about securing a recovery for all parts of the country. Because of the tough decisions we’ve taken on day-to-day spending, we’re able to invest in key infrastructure projects like the Northern Hub, which will create billions for the region.

“Each part of this project, like the first work at Manchester Airport station that I’ve kicked off today, will help us build the infrastructure we need to compete in the global race.

“This investment will ensure growth is not concentrated in any one place by keeping Britain connected and creating thousands of local jobs, delivering a brighter economic future for the whole country.”

Martin Frobisher, area director for Network Rail said: “The Northern Hub and electrification programme is the biggest investment in the railway in the north of England for a generation and will transform rail travel for millions of passengers every year.

“Providing a faster, more regular and reliable railway between key towns and cities in the north of England provides significant benefits to passengers and helps to boost the economy, making it quicker and easier to travel further for work or pleasure.

“It is a further example of the importance of the railway to and is a key part of our commitment to provide a better railway for a better Britain.”

Andrew Cowan, chief operating officer for Manchester Airports Group (MAG), owners of Manchester Airport, said: “We welcome the fourth platform at the airport station. It will further open up the airport for our catchment area across northern England. Furthermore it will provide direct access for businesses and employees to our £800m Airport City development, which is transforming the area around the station into an international business hub.

“The fact the development can be completed ahead of schedule and alongside other construction works taking place will be advantageous to employees, the local community and of course our 20m plus airport passengers each year, many of which use the station, which operates 24 hours a day.”

Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester committee, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to work with our partners to deliver this crucial addition to the airport’s railway station 18 months ahead of schedule.

“That’s made possible by capitalising on the delivery of our new Metrolink line to Manchester Airport, funded entirely by the 10 Greater Manchester authorities, which will add yet further links to this key employment centre.

“The fourth platform will, of course, be the first of several significant improvements delivered by the vital Northern Hub programme that will transform our incredibly popular railways and provide the foundation for sustained economic growth across the region.”

Nick Donovan, FTPE managing director, said: “These works will further enhance the railway station and provide yet more service reliability and customer choice as part of the wider Northern Hub project whilst also offering customers from across the north of England greater connections from rail to air.

“I am delighted that we have been able to work closely with Network Rail and Manchester Airport to facilitate the early delivery of this investment in additional platform capacity.

“Currently an eighth of our business is initiated with journeys to and from Manchester Airport. From May this year we will be increasing the number of seats on our services from the airport by nearly 30%.”

Alex Hynes, managing director, Northern Rail said: “Millions of pounds worth of investment in rail in the north equals travel benefits to millions of passengers. The development at Manchester Airport will mean more reliable connections between rail and air, offering more opportunities to our customers to travel throughout Britain and beyond from the north of England.”

To deliver improvements on this scale, there will be some short-term disruption to rail services while the work is carried out. Network Rail is working closely with many authorities and organisations across the north of England to minimise this as much as possible.

Working closely with Transport for Greater Manchester and MAG, the start and completion of the work at Manchester Airport station will take place 18 months ahead of the original plans as it will be carried out by contractors constructing the extension of the Metrolink tram system to the airport.

Construction will take place between 14 March and 7 April 2014 and will include two weekend closures of the railway at Manchester Airport on 14 and 15 March and 5 and 6 April. First TransPennine Express, Northern Rail and Arriva Train Wales services into and out of Manchester Airport station will be affected and replaced by bus services over the two weekend closures.

Passengers planning to travel by train during the work should leave more time to complete their journey and check before they travel for the latest information.

The work will also disrupt the local road network but local diversions will be clearly marked.

The £20m platform upgrade at Manchester Airport station is due for completion by the end of 2015.

Notes to editors

The Northern Hub is a £600 million programme of targeted upgrades to the railway in the north of England. In conjunction with North West and TransPennine Electrification, it will when completed in 2019, allow up to 700 more trains to run each day across the north of England, providing space for an extra 44 million additional passengers a year.

The Northern Hub benefits the whole of the north of England. The services and economic benefits run as far as Newcastle and Hull in the east to Chester and Liverpool in the west and once completed it will deliver:

- £4bn worth of wider economic benefits to the region and potentially 20,000 to 30,000 new jobs

- £4 boost to the economy for every £1 spent

- The ability to double trains into the Trafford Park freight terminals

Electric trains will start operating between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool in December with faster journey times, cutting 10-15 minutes off the existing journey time.

In December, the £44 million investment programme at Manchester Victoria will be completed, transforming it into a fitting gateway to the city.

By December 2016 there will be two extra trains and hour between Liverpool and Manchester and six trains and hour over the Pennines to Leeds and beyond with the potential to reduce journey times between Leeds and Manchester by around 10 minutes

Faster journey times to Sheffield and the East Midlands, Chester, Bradford, Halifax, Hull, Newcastle and the North-East

The opening of the Ordsall Chord in December 2016 will allow a major recast of rail services across Manchester - more services will be routed via Victoria instead of the congested Piccadilly. For the first time, direct services from Bradford, Halifax and Rochdale to the airport will be introduced.

The first closure will see all lines closed from 2330 on 14 March until 0830 on 16 March.

A second closure will occur on 2230 on 5 April until 0530 on 7 April. Platform 3 will also be taken out of use over this period from 2330 on 14 March until 0530 on 7 April reducing platform capacity at the station.

Both closures and the reduced platform capacity will affect all First TransPennine Express, Northern Rail and Arriva Train Wales services into and out of Manchester Airport station. A road replacement service will operate from the airport to Manchester Piccadilly for both closures. A temporary timetable is in operation for the duration of the work. Full details of train times and the road replacement services can be found at

Outwood Lane road will also be closed for a period of two weeks with traffic diverted on to other roads within the airport. Full details of the road closures with diversions can be found on the Manchester Airport’s website

Manchester Airport is operated by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and is a global gateway for the north of the UK and the largest airport outside London with over 200 destinations served by 65 airlines.

Manchester’s long-haul catchment area places around 24 million people and 60% of all UK businesses within a two-hour drive time – it extends north through the Lake District into Scotland; east across Yorkshire and the north east; south to Birmingham and the Midlands; and west into Merseyside and Wales.

MAG serves 42 million passengers and handles almost half a million tonnes of air freight every year through its ownership and operation of London Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is responsible for monitoring, managing and investing in transport services and facilities, including the bus, rail and Metrolink networks, bus stations, bus shelters and traffic signals. The Metrolink network is trebling in size through a £1.4 billion expansion programme which, once complete in 2017, will see it cover a total of 60 miles of track, with 93 stops served by a fleet of 94 trams. A new Metrolink line to Manchester Airport, via Wythenshawe, is being delivered as part of the expansion and is due to be complete in 2016.

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About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.

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