Boris Johnson pledges funding for new high-speed rail in north of England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets engineering graduates on the site of an under-construction tramline in Stretford, greater Manchester. Credit: Jacob King/PA

Boris Johnson will announce plans to fund a new high-speed rail route which connects the north of England.

The new prime minister will announce in a speech that he will set aside funds to support the trans-Pennine transport link between Manchester and Leeds to help "turbo charge" regional growth.

In a shift away from Brexit, Mr Johnson will deliver a speech in Manchester where he will reiterate the need to improve transport, education and fighting crime.

Leeds Railways Station could be in line to see a new high-speed route to Manchester. Credit: PA

Although Mr Johnson is not planning to hold a snap general election before the October 31 Brexit deadline, he will tell the Manchester audience: “I want to be the PM who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did with Crossrail in London.

“And today I am going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route.

“It will be up to local people and us to come to an agreement on the exact proposal they want – but I have tasked officials to accelerate their work on these plans so that we are ready to do a deal in the autumn.”

Services in the north of England could see major upgrades as part of the funding pledge by Mr Johnson. Credit: PA

Downing Street said that detailed plans regarding the proposed Manchester to Leeds rail route will be published in the autumn, following a review into HS2.

The trans-Pennine route is expected to cut journey times and provide additional capacity for people across the region.

Mr Johnson will use the speech to state he is committed to “rebalance power, growth and productivity across the UK”.

  • What else is on the new prime minister's agenda?

Mr Johnson will also pledge to improve "unglamorous local services which people use every day", such as buses.

He will add: "I want to help local leaders bring their local services in all our towns and cities up to the standards of the best.

“And I want that to start now, with improvements that can happen in the short term, not just big engineering schemes that will take years.”

According to The Times, Mr Johnson will set aside £2billion in funding to pump into some of the UK's most deprived towns.

Bus services have been signposted for improvement under the funding pledge. Credit: PA

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald was dismissive of the Manchester-Leeds rail pledge, stating: “This project has been announced time and time again by the Conservatives.

“With Boris Johnson’s staggering failure to build a bridge across the Thames and an estuary airport I’m not confident he’ll be able to deliver better train services between Leeds and Manchester.”