Government’s rail investment plan forges ahead

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(London Post)   Transport secretary welcomes rail investment in West Yorkshire economy. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin viewed progress at Kirkstall Forge, the site of one of West Yorkshire’s newest train stations, as he confirmed the government is delivering its manifesto commitment to rail modernisation.

Kirkstall Forge is one of 2 new stations that have been jointly funded by the government and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is expected to open in the new year. The second station, at Apperley Bridge, is due to open later this month.

Once in use, Kirkstall Forge will allow the redevelopment of the old steel site into a modern housing development and office complex that will offer new jobs and opportunities across the region.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

In our manifesto we committed to spending £13 billion on transport for projects in the north. Today we are delivering on that promise.

The £9.5 million we have invested in these two new stations has provided economic security to thousands of people who have helped build them and will staff them in the future.

It’s a massive opportunity for the regional economy, and for customers who get to use the stations each day.

Councillor Keith Wakefield West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee Chair said:

Along with Apperley Bridge, Kirkstall Forge is 1 of 2 new rail stations due to open in West Yorkshire in the coming weeks and months and it is a key element of the Combined Authority’s work to put in place a transport network that underpins growth and job creation.

As well as providing passengers with links to Leeds’ and Bradford’s city centres, Kirkstall Forge station will support growth on the Kirkstall Forge development. And with further 127 park-and-ride spaces to add to the existing 4,500 at West Yorkshire’s rail stations, it will make an important contribution to reducing congestion and improving air quality on local routes.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin views progress at Kirkstall Forge train station.

The government has embarked on one of the biggest programmes of rail modernisation since the Victorian era. By 2019, more than £38 billion will have been invested in our rail network, giving passengers more seats, more services and more trains.

Passengers are already starting to see the benefits from the government’s modernisation programme:

  • in September Wakefield Kirkgate station was re-opened following a £5.6 million refurbishment, which included nearly £1.5 million of DfT funding
  • there is capacity for an extra 5,500 passengers on the West Coast Main Line, thanks to the government’s new West Coast rail franchise launched last year – there are also new services linking Shrewsbury and Blackpool North to London
  • the new East Coast Main Line franchise was launched in March 2015 – it will give passengers, more train services, more peak time seats and faster journey times once the new Hitachi Intercity Express trains become operational
  • plans for the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises have already been announced – this will see the removal of all the old Pacer trains, 120 new-build carriages and a huge increase in rail capacity for the major cities in the north
  • the railway lines between Liverpool and Manchester have now been electrified – this is giving passengers faster, more reliable and more frequent services: there are also more services and more seats between Leeds and Manchester
  • work has been completed on the £550 million redevelopment of King’s Cross Station – Londoners have also see Blackfriars and Farringdon stations dramatically improved by the Thameslink project
  • the tunnelling work for the Crossrail project is now complete and first trains are due to be in operation through the central section in 2018

In additional, construction will begin on HS2 during this Parliament, delivering HS2 from London to Birmingham by 2026, and to Leeds and Manchester by 2033.

During construction, HS2 is expected to support up to 25,000 jobs and up to 2,000 apprenticeships. It will considerably slash journey times and increase capacity on our busy railways. This new route will be a significant catalyst for driving growth and rebalancing regional economies across the country.

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