‘TransNorth’ high speed rail network proposed
The Government has published with Transport for the North (TfN) its transport plan for the region, in a document which offers what is described as a ‘shared agenda for transformational connectivity across the North to support once in a generation economic renewal’.
Included in the document is a vision for a ‘TransNorth’ electrified high speed railway network to link the region’s key economic centres at speeds of up to 140mph. This is designed to transform city to city connectivity on the east-west axis. Work on the proposals will be developed and the first tranche of projects could take place during Control Period 6 (2019-24).
Alongside this is a commitment to delivery of the full ‘Y’ network of HS2, plans for a multimodal freight strategy for the region and proposals to develop integrated and smart ticketing structures.
The ‘TransNorth’ network would see either significant upgrading of existing routes or wholly new routes on key parts of the TransPennine rail network. This could include a new high speed connection between Liverpool and Manchester, linked to HS2, and a new tunnelled route beneath the Pennines to link Manchester to Sheffield and Leeds. Between Leeds and Newcastle, capacity and speed increases are considered, including 140mph running to ‘take advantage of the capability of the latest generation of electric trains’. Re-opening of the Leamside line through County Durham and Washington is mooted as a means of relieving the East Coast main line between Newcastle and Northallerton.
The report sets out a vision for an ‘attractive and convenient’ ticketing solution, which would include a zonal fares structure which could pave the way for a single smart ticketing solution which includes rail, bus, Metro and tram services. This work will begin with simplification of rail fares to ‘eliminate unfair pricing anomalies’.
The Government says part of the work of Transport for the North will also include development of ‘a single plan for the needs of freight and logistics in the future’ to ensure that the rail network ‘supports the effective distribution of freight’.
The Government intends to review and agree the governance of Transport for the North by autumn 2015.