Newcastle to Liverpool journey times could be cut by an hour under 'revolutionary' transport package

George Osborne and Nick Clegg will meet with northern leaders in Liverpool to back ambitious Transport for the North plans

David Parry/PA Wire Virgin East Coast train at London’s King’s Cross station
Virgin East Coast train at London’s King’s Cross station

Radical improvements to road and rail with the power to transform travel in the North East will be backed by senior Government figures today.

George Osborne will back the ambitious Transport for the North (TfN) report which includes a game-changing £2.7bn investment for 140mph intercity trains.

It would mean journey times between Newcastle and Liverpool are slashed by an hour and those from Newcastle to Leeds by 30 minutes.

In a development that will delight road campaigners, the Government has also said it will look at dualling the A1 to the Scottish border after 2020.

The announcement is part of the Chancellor’s drive to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’. Mr Osborne, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will meet the leaders of Northern cities in Liverpool.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin near the A1 at Causey Park north of Morpeth. Also pictured Anne Marie Trevelyan.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin near the A1 at Causey Park north of Morpeth. Also pictured Anne Marie Trevelyan.

Labour called the plan a “desperate attempt to win votes”.

Councillor Nick Forbes leader of Newcastle City Council and transport lead on the North East Combined Authority said: “I made sure that the report recognises the strategic economic significance of Newcastle Airport, the Port of Tyne, the East Coast Mainline and the A1, which all play a vital role in connecting our region nationally and internationally.

“The report recognises that our plans are credible and deliverable. I’ll be working with other northern city leaders to keep up the pressure on Government to turn our vision into reality.”

The TfN plans include a unified smart ticketing system for the whole of the North will be introduced, simplifying travel by rail, bus, metro and tram.

Pacer trains will be scrapped for all Northern franchise services as well as investment pumped in to renovate stations.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes

A consultation on extending the Leamside Line through County Durham and Washington will be opened in a bid to relieve traffic on the East Coast line between Newcastle and Northallerton.

The Government will also look at improving connectivity east to west by significantly upgrading the A66 from Scotch Corner to the M6, and exploring to significantly upgrade the A69 from Newcastle to Carlisle.

Upgrades to the A1, A19, A69 and A66 to better connect Port of Tyne and Teesport with the country are included, following £1bn of private sector investment in ports across the North.

Chancellor George Osborne, who is backing the TfN proposals after a Budget which seemed to offer the North East very little, said: “Connecting up the great cities of the North is at the heart of our plan to build a Northern Powerhouse. This report has the potential to revolutionise transport in the North and we will work closely with TfN to help make it a reality.”

Danny Lawson/PA Wire Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m extremely proud to be announcing this new strategy which will be transformative for the region. Modernising rail in the North and speeding up connections between cities will encourage business, boost tourism and give commuters the transport network they deserve.”

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Michael Dugher said: “After five years of failing the North of England, the Tories and Lib Dems are making a desperate, last ditch attempt to win votes in the North ahead of the General Election.

“People in the North won’t be fooled by a so called ‘strategy’ that falls well short of what is needed.

“Labour has a better plan and a big offer for the North as part of our plans to deliver the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England’s city and county regions for generations, including transport, housing and business support.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer