Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Network Rail unveils 530m revamp plans for the North

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Network Rail hopes to slash journey times across the North

Proposals worth £530m to improve rail travel in the north of England have been unveiled by Network Rail.

The firm carried out a study, which showed it needed more - and faster - train services and stations needed to expand to cope with more passengers.

It will affect passengers in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle.

The plans also include a refurbishment of Manchester Victoria station, turning it into a major interchange.

A spokesman for Network Rail said detailed plans about changes to the station were due to be released in the coming weeks.

Through better connections, faster services and improved stations we want to trigger wider growth in the north which in turn will support local jobs and businesses.
Iain Coucher, Network Rail

The proposals in the study, called The Northern Hub, also identify the need to increase freight capacity on the region's railways.

Network Rail said it hoped to secure funding for its proposals, which it said represented value for money.

If the company is successful in gaining the funding, from the Department for Transport and other organisations, the plans will be implemented from 2014, a spokesman said.

Iain Coucher, chief executive of Network Rail, said: "Rail is already a massive success story in the north with many thousands of people travelling with us every day and more than 90% of services arriving on time.

"Through better connections, faster services and improved stations we want to trigger wider growth in the north which in turn will support local jobs and businesses.

"Our ambitious vision includes miles of track, new platforms and electrification to keep driving up passenger demand while keeping freight on the rails - and lorries off of our already congested roads."

'Seriously overcrowded'

Ashwin Kumar, rail director of customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said passengers would welcome the step to alleviate overcrowding and to speed up journeys.

He added: "The railway is getting busier and passengers are telling us that many services into Manchester and Leeds are seriously overcrowded.

"On some trains it is difficult to get on, let alone get a seat.

"Passengers also express frustration with slow journey times, for example between Liverpool and Manchester.

"These proposals, if funded and delivered, should help to alleviate these problems."



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