£300m-worth of investment to include M62 upgrade and plans for the Trans-Pennine tunnel.
Chancellor George Osborne will give the green light to the HS3 rail link between Manchester and Leeds during Wednesday’s budget, in what’s being billed as “the largest rail investment programme since the Victorian age”.
Announced as part of £300m-worth of investment in transport and infrastructure, Osborne will unveil a £60m fund to draw-up ‘detailed plans’ for the rail link, which could reduce journey times between the two cities to 30 minutes. Osborne will also release £75m to kick-start the proposed £6bn 18-mile Trans-Pennine tunnel beneath the Peak District, connecting Manchester with Sheffield.
A further £161m will be used to increase capacity on the M62 between junctions 10 to 12 from Warrington to Eccles and junctions 20 to 25 from Rochdale to Brighouse. Osborne’s announcements follow a recent report by Lord Adonis’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) which said the region’s transport infrastructure required ‘immediate and very significant investment’. Adonis said: “If the North is to become a powerhouse it has to be better connected. Leeds and Manchester are just 40 miles apart but there is no quick and easy way to travel between the two.”
The reports recommends ‘kick-starting HS3, integrating it with HS2 and planning for the redevelopment of the North’s gateway stations,’ whilst investment in roads ‘should be brought forwards for an early boost in capacity on the M62, the North’s most important east-west link’. Speaking of HS3, Adonis told BBC Radio 4: “This is going to be a phased approach. It’s not going to be one big bang like HS2, which is the creation of a completely new line from nothing.”
“It will be a mixture of improving the current line and stretches of new line to deliver two objectives: big cuts in journey times between the big northern cities, from Liverpool in the west to Hull in the east, and also big improvements in capacity, so you can have much more regular trains as well as faster trains.”
A complete HS3 blueprint is expected next year.