Over £600m to be invested into North rail network

A £600 million pound boost to northern England's rail network has been announced alongside the establishment of an organisation to accelerate transport investment in the region.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the vast majority of the money will go towards kick-starting the Transpennine Upgrade to electrify most of the line between Manchester and Leeds.

It will also allow faster trains to overtake slower ones by doubling the number of tracks from two to four on the most congested sections around Huddersfield and Leeds.

There are further plans for full electrification, digital signalling, more areas with four tracks and improved freight capacity.

Those measures would allow all-electric services to operate between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is also the Northern Powerhouse minister, will lead the new Northern Transport Acceleration Council.

The DfT claimed the creation of the body will give northern leaders a "direct line to ministers" to speed up projects.

It will hold its first meeting in September, and will consist of elected mayors and council leaders.

Mr Shapps said the Government is "determined to accelerate improvements" as people in the North "rightly expect action, progress and ambition".

He went on:

Chancellor and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak said:

Passenger watchdog Transport Focus urged the Government to ensure travellers are kept informed about what the work will mean for their journeys.

Mr Shapps' predecessor, Chris Grayling, was widely criticised after electrification projects in South Wales, the Midlands and the Lake District which were axed or downgraded in July 2017.