Briefing: Integrated Rail Plan

A lot was reported in the media last week about the Government’s major announcement on rail services, particularly around High Speed 2, and ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’.

Here is a really useful summary briefing, from Transport for Greater Manchester on how the proposals affect the Greater Manchester area:


The Government published the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands which sets out a blueprint for the development of the strategic rail network over the next 30 years.

Please find key headlines below and a map of the network proposed by the IRP appended. 


  • The IRP confirms the delivery of HS2 Phase 2b Crewe to Manchester, with high speed rail stations at Manchester Airport and Piccadilly. As per the 2021 Queen’s Speech, a hybrid Bill is expected to be deposited in early 2022.
  • However, the IRP contains uncertainty over timescales and indicates that HS2 to Manchester may not be delivered until the early-to-mid 2040s, significantly behind the previously-expected timeframe.
  • The IRP also provides for a new line between Warrington and Manchester, which would connect with the HS2 line into Manchester.
  • Between Manchester and Leeds a new line will be delivered connecting the high speed station at Piccadilly to the existing Transpennine Route near to Marsden. However, the full Northern Powerhouse Rail connection between Manchester and Leeds via a new city centre station in Bradford is omitted.
  • The Western Leg of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester will be delivered in full, with new high speed stations at Manchester Piccadilly and (subject to final agreement of a local funding contribution) Manchester Airport.
  • Government is ‘minded to consider’ that a surface station at Manchester Piccadilly, integrating HS2 and NPR, should be retained in the Phase 2b Western Leg hybrid Bill design.
  • The Golborne link, which would enable HS2 services to serve Wigan via the West Coast Mainline, remains in scope, but the forthcoming Union Connectivity Review will consider alternatives.
    Northern Powerhouse Rail: Liverpool to Manchester

• A new line will be delivered between Warrington and HS2 near to Manchester Airport

Northern Powerhouse Rail: Manchester to Leeds 

  • Between Manchester and Leeds a new line will be delivered connecting the high speed station at Piccadilly to the existing Transpennine Route near to Marsden.
  • The IRP describes this as ‘delivering NPR between Manchester and Leeds’, but this falls short of the aspiration of new high speed line all the way to Leeds with a new station in the centre of Bradford.
    Northern Powerhouse Rail: Manchester to Sheffield

• Work to improve the Hope Valley line is already underway, including line speed and capacity improvements. These works could help to facilitate a possible future third fast Sheffield to Manchester service each hour. 

Transpennine Route Upgrade 

TRU will be delivered in full including electrification of the whole route, digital signalling throughout, significantly longer sections of three and four-tracking, and gauge upgrades to allow intermodal container freight services. This Government has stated that this will now constitute the “first phase” of NPR. 

HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg 

  • The Eastern Leg of HS2 between East Midlands and Leeds will not be delivered in full (i.e. fully segregated new high speed rail line between Birmingham and Leeds via East Midlands Hub (Toton)).
  • Instead, a new high speed line will be delivered from the West Midlands to East Midlands Parkway, along with electrification of the Midland Main Line to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield via Derby, and further investment on the East Coast Main Line from London to Leeds and the North East. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *