Government promises £84m to improve unreliable train services in the North-West
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The government has announced an £84m funding package which is targeted at increasing the reliability of trains in Manchester and the North-West.
The money will go towards works that will deliver trackside upgrades, platform extensions for longer trains and bigger depots across the region.
According to a survey of 5086 passengers from Transport Focus last month, West Midlands Railway was found to have the lowest customer satisfaction rating in the country.
Works are already under way to upgrade trackside equipment between Manchester and Liverpool and platform extensions on the Cumbrian route. This will support the introduction of longer trains with extra seats and an upcoming timetable change across the region with hopes that reliability will be improved.
The government has been criticised in the past by peers and MPs for not focusing enough resources on Northern infrastructure and instead favouring rail services in other part of the country, especially the south-east.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “This £84m investment will make trains more reliable for the people of Manchester and beyond and kicks off a decade’s worth of improvements across the region.
“The Transpennine Route Upgrade, the Integrated Rail Plan and Northern Powerhouse Rail will transform the lives of passengers across the region for generations to come.
“As we level up the country, we’re determined to use rail to boost local economies, create greener journeys and changes lives for the better.”
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham described the “lack of investment in rail over the past decade” in the region as “a drag on realising our ambition”.
A “reliable and dependable railway which provides a high-quality travelling experience” connecting major northern cities is “an important ingredient for the long-term success of our city-region and the wider area”, he said.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome step forward and I look forward to continuing to work with Government and the industry.
“This is just the start of the infrastructure investment needed.
“We need to push on with a comprehensive package of improvements which will help to secure a successful future for rail travel in our region for generations to come.”
The Department for Transport said the improvements would be in addition to the Integrated Rail Plan, which is investing £96bn across the North and Midlands to boost rail services.
That plan, which was published in November, caused outrage among many northern leaders because it formally scrapped HS2’s eastern leg between the East Midlands and Leeds.
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