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Transport Secretary presses ahead with rail improvements in the north

Patrick McLoughlin and Robert Goodwill met northern leaders to discuss ‘Northern Powerhouse’ plan.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and transport minister Robert Goodwill visited the north of England on 5 January 2015 to look at how rail improvements could transform the region into a ‘northern powerhouse’ of connected cities.

During visits to Liverpool and Leeds, they met leaders from across the region to discuss their vision for future improvements.

The visit came after the government gave its backing to northern leaders to create Transport for the North (TfN), a new body made up of the main northern city regions. TfN will work with government to develop transport plans – including proposals for an improved east-west rail link connecting the north’s major cities – that will strengthen the region’s economy.

Patrick McLoughlin said:

Strong rail links are vital to building economic prosperity across the north. We have big ambitions for more trains, more seats and faster services, and local leaders in the north are best placed to tell us how we can make this a reality.

Today’s (5 January 2015) discussions were very constructive, and I look forward to working closely with these organisations as they develop their plans.

In October, Sir David Higgins published a report recommending the creation of Transport for the North, so that northern cities could speak with ‘one voice’ on transport issues. His recommendations on improving east-west connectivity led the government to announce work to develop plans for a high speed rail link to cut journey times between key northern cities.

The Department for Transport is working with Transport for the North partners to develop a transport strategy for the north, with an interim report expected later this year.

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