It is a privilege to be here today.
To declare open a renewed Manchester Victoria station.
Manchester Victoria has been serving passengers for over 170 years.
Designed as a grand station for the greatest manufacturing city in the world.
It is a great station with a great history.
Yet over recent decades, it had been allowed to decline, as successive governments failed to invest in northern transport.
By 2009, Manchester Victoria was rated the worst station in Britain; a casualty of the north-south investment divide.
A station fit for Manchester
So 6 years later, and 3 years after work here began, it’s thrilling to see Manchester Victoria.
Once again a station fit for the city of Manchester.
No longer a symbol of northern neglect.
But proof we are building a Northern Powerhouse.
The north is receiving a wave of investment in its transport infrastructure on a scale not seen for generations.
£4.5 billion in the north west alone.
This region’s roads and railways, so important for prosperity, are being transformed.
Everyone who uses Manchester Victoria is getting not just a stunning, upgraded station, but improvements to their journey.
When we have finished, every line serving this station will have been enhanced with new infrastructure or better services.
The line to Liverpool has already been electrified, so the journey takes less than 35 minutes.
We are re-signalling the Calder Valley line to improve journey times and provide for more frequent trains.
As I speak, a tunnelling machine built in Oldham, and bigger than those used to dig the Channel Tunnel and Crossrail, is boring a new tunnel at Farnworth so we can electrify the line between Manchester, Bolton and Preston.
On the Metrolink, Transport for Greater Manchester is building a 2nd City Crossing from this station, which will increase the capacity and reliability of the Metrolink network.
And last week I was pleased to announce that work to electrify the TransPennine route to Huddersfield, Leeds and York is to resume.
This picture of change is repeated across the north.
Over the year to December, over 85 additional carriages will have been added to Northern Rail fleet for services in the north west.
From 2018, new InterCity Express trains will replace the existing trains on the East Coast Mainline.
Overall, by the end of 2019, there will be an increase in peak capacity into the big cities of the north of over one third.
Providing an extra 200 services every day.
And Pacers will have been removed from the Northern franchise.
Then looking further ahead, there’s HS2.
The tendering process for construction has begun.
And work will start in just 2 years.
So this magnificent station is the evidence.
The Northern Powerhouse is being built.
And the benefits are already being delivered.
There are 71,000 more businesses in the north west than in 2010: a clear sign our long-term plan to secure a stronger, healthier economy is working.
So, thank you to Network Rail.
Transport for Greater Manchester.
The Railway Heritage Trust.
The main contractor, Morgan Sindall.
And the staff of Northern Rail who have kept trains running throughout.
You have done a brilliant job.
You have made Manchester Victoria a station for the future.
I have no doubt that it will continue to serve the people of Manchester for another 170 years.