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Northern powerhouse

London and South East England are reaping the rewards of investment in rail by ensuring the City can grow economically. Delivery of new infrastructure such as Crossrail to time and budget is also stimulating jobs across the country.

However rail in the North is often viewed quite differently, as an underperforming operation of overcrowded services requiring high subsidies. This view is apparent in the recent DfT consultation on the future of the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises.

Railfuture consider that there is an opportunity for rail to turn the great Northern cities of Liverpool, Preston, Manchester, Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds and Hull into a single strategic economic entity linked by a fast high capacity rail network to realise the economic potential of the region as a global powerhouse.

The government has recognised the value of investment in rail infrastructure in the north in the form of projects for HS2 Phase 2 to Manchester and Leeds, the Manchester ‘Hub’, the North West electrification programme and the recent commitment by George Osborne to improve the notorious Leeds to Manchester link with HS3. This represents a significant but fragmented investment package, controlled from London. If however the people of the North were allowed to specify these elements in a coordinated plan that created a truly integrated rail network serving the whole region, then the full benefits of a strategic economic entity could be realised.

Our campaign

Railfuture will use every opportunity to argue the case for the benefits of improved services that can be achieved now within current constraints, and that can be achieved in future through a coordinated investment programme. You can watch the case develop by following the links below:
  • Railfuture response to the DfT Consultation on the future of the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises
  • Rail – the catalyst for change. Article published on 31st October 2014 in The House, Parliament's own magazine.
  • ‘Powerhouse’ – The case for Rail investment in the North. Article published in Politics Today, November 2014
  • Northern double whammy - why the figures calculated for subsidy by TOC are unfair
  • The need for improved services, for example on the Mid-Cheshire line
  • Northern Saviour? - the opportunity for Northern franchise bidders to increase their quality score by replacing Pacers, increasing capacity and reducing journey times to improve the passenger experience.
  • A station back in Skelmersdale - Lancashire County Council is forging ahead with plans to connect Skelmersdale town centre to the rail network, approving £1m towards a GRIP 3 study.
  • Integrated Leeds station - West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce propose a single Leeds station serving all HS2, inter-city, regional and metro rail services.
  • Sheffield Victoria - Sheiffield City Council's case for a city centre HS2 station.
Our case is supported by evidence from other organisations:


Rail User Express Rail Action