Rebecca Wayman

Rail minister: 'Northern leaders need to drive forward vital transport projects'

Rail minister and Conservative MP, Jo Johnson is encouraging the North to speak ‘as a whole’ after meeting leaders from across the region in Liverpool this week.

He discussed the ‘unprecedented new powers’ of Transport for the North (TfN).

Johnson called upon Northern leaders to drive forward vital transport projects, like the Northern Powerhouse Rail after he attended the first meeting since TfN was legally established as England’s first sub-national transport body, which has been backed by £260m of government funding.

He said: “Between 2015 and 2020, the government will have spent over £13bn - more than any other in history - to transform Northern transport, boosting economic growth and unlocking the incredible potential of the great towns and cities of the north.

“Establishing Transport for the North is a crucial next step in giving the North greater influence than ever over transport investment. It is imperative that the North now speaks with a strong, unified voice to identify where we can work together to transform journeys for people.

“With significant new powers to drive forward transformative projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and smart ticketing, I am confident that TfN will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of northern transport.”

During his visit to Liverpool Lime Street, Jo Johnson met with Network Rail staff delivering major upgrades to platforms and signalling at the great Victorian station, as part of the Great North Rail Project.

With work to deliver an extra platform to be completed this summer, the upgrade will enable three new services per hour in and out of Lime Street.

Patrick Cawley, director of route sponsorship at Network Rail, added: “Our major transformation of Liverpool Lime Street is a key part of the Great North Rail Project, and it will be fantastic to show Rail Minister Jo Johnson what we’ve done so far.

“Once complete in October, passengers will see completely remodelled platforms and two brand new platforms.

“Longer, better managed platforms will accommodate longer trains, helping provide more space and seats for passengers. This is vital ahead of the significant increase in passengers expected in the coming years.”

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