Integrated Rail Plan: the details – official

Rail journeys from Newcastle to Birmingham will be reduced by almost 30 minutes while Durham and Darlington will benefit from smoother and more reliable trains, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons today when announcing details of the long-awaited Integrated Rail Plan (IRP).

North East travellers also stand to benefit from a cut from 83 minutes to 55 minutes in journey times between York and Manchester.

A rapid programme of upgrading of the East Coast Main Line to the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East will cut journey times by up to 25 minutes.

According to the Department for Transport: ‘The IRP fully electrifies and upgrades two diesel main lines – the Midlands Main Line and the Transpennine Main Line – as well as upgrading a third main line – the East Coast – with higher speeds, power improvements and digital signalling to slash journey times’.

Shapps said the £96bn programme he was announcing today would transform rail services in the north and the Midlands. He called it the ‘largest single rail investment ever made by a UK government’.

He said it would benefit eight out of ten of the busiest rail corridors across the Midlands and north. It would deliver faster journeys, increased capacity and more frequent services up to ten years sooner than previously planned.

Under the new IRP, the previously planned eastern leg of High Speed Rail 2 (HS2b) from Birmingham to Leeds will not go ahead, and the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) between Manchester and Leeds will not go ahead in full.

Instead there will be three high-speed lines: Crewe to Manchester; Birmingham to the East Midlands, and from Warrington to Manchester and to the western border of Yorkshire.

Shapps said the government was getting started immediately with £625m for electrification between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, and there would be a further £249m to electrify the Midlands mainline.

In addition there will be £360m to reform fares and ticketing with contactless ticketing to 700 urban stations, including 400 in the north.