UK govt unveils northern rail transformation plans

<p>The chancellor is set to unveil the Northern Transport Strategy later today.</p>

Rail services across the north of England are set to be transformed thanks to a new plan unveiled by the government later today (March 20th).

Chancellor George Osborne will lay out the plans for the Northern Transport Strategy which hopes to improve rail and road links across the region. In what Mr Osborne believes will create a "northern powerhouse", the government wants to speed up train times between major cities. The report is a collaboration between the government and the newly formed Transport for North (TfN).

The plans build on previous HS2 proposals which aim to bring high-speed trains to England. Among the proposed new routes for the north is a Leeds to Newcastle service which will bring travel times down to about 50 minutes, with a cost of between £8.5 billion and £14 billion.

Sheffield to Manchester and Manchester to Leeds routes will be under 30 minutes with an estimated cost of £12 billion to £19 billion. The plans would also include the introduction of an Oyster-style smart travel card which could be used anywhere in the north.

Mr Osborne said: "Connecting up the great cities of the north is at the heart of our plan to build a northern powerhouse.

"From backing high-speed rail to introducing simpler fares right across the north, our ambitious plans for transport mean we will deliver a truly national recovery where every part of the country will share in Britain's prosperity."

Integrating the north into HS2

The government's controversial HS2 plan is designed to dramatically cut journey times between London and Birmingham. The multi-billion pound proposals will mean the capital is accessible from the Midlands in around an hour. However, there have been calls to integrate the north into these plans.

This has resulted in an extension of the scheme which sees a splintering at the Pennines with services going to Manchester and Leeds via Sheffield. Ministers are also looking at the creation of a HS3 service which would improve journey times across the north and also reduce the stress on the current rail network.

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