Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin visited Farnworth, near Bolton today, Tuesday 11 August 2015, to see how major rail improvements are helping to create a Northern Powerhouse.
The transport secretary visited the Farnworth Tunnel, where tunnelling work is now underway to provide faster, better journeys and more space for passengers travelling between Manchester, Bolton and Preston.
The work is part of the government’s commitment to build a Northern Powerhouse that will help the north of England unleash its full power, and create a balanced, healthier economy. A blueprint of how £13 billion is transforming transport links across the north is today being published by the Department for Transport.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
This one nation government is determined to close the economic gap between north and south. Investing in transport – something that successive governments have failed to do sufficiently – is vital to making that happen.
We had a choice - building the infrastructure our country needs, or letting our transport system become a brake on growth and opportunity. We have chosen to invest for the future.
Across the north, that investment is already having a huge impact, with programmes – like the impressive work at Farnworth – underway to upgrade our railways and our roads. We are determined to keep the momentum going.
The Farnworth work – which began in March - involves re-drilling the existing tunnel, using a machine bigger than those used on the Crossrail and Channel Tunnel projects, so that the rail line can be electrified. This will allow faster, greener electric trains with more capacity to be introduced from the end of 2016.
The work is part of Network Rail’s north of England programme, an investment of over £1 billion to improve the region’s railways, allowing hundreds more trains to run and providing space for millions more passengers a year.
Making transport better by improving the links that bind the north together is integral to the Northern Powerhouse. It will bring cities and regions closer together and strengthen connections - Liverpool to Hull, the north west to Yorkshire, the north east and the Midlands – making it easier for hard working people and businesses to access markets or deploy their skills.
Other transport improvements either planned or underway include:
- new electric train services have been running between Manchester, Liverpool and Wigan since earlier this year
- the opening of the refurbished station at Manchester Victoria this autumn, making the station safer, brighter and more spacious and a fitting gateway for the city
- a new southern entrance to Leeds station, to serve the expanding commercial area south of the River Aire
- new franchises that will see modern trains and additional capacity on TransPennine services between Leeds and Manchester and the removal of Pacer trains on Northern routes
- work to deliver faster trains and better services between Sheffield and London
- investment in the period up to 2020/21 in over 40 major road schemes ultimately worth £4.8 billion across Yorkshire, the north east and north west, with new schemes expected to create over 2,000 jobs
- in the longer-term, transforming city to city rail connectivity across the region, radically reducing travel times, through HS2 and TransNorth east-west rail links
After his visit to Farnworth, the transport secretary then travelled to Merseyside, where he opened the new A5758 Broom’s Cross Road between Thornton and Switch Island. Roads Minister Andrew Jones was also in the north east to see progress on over £60 million of improvements to the A1.