Boris Johnson’s rail plan: what’s in it and what was promised

Boris Johnson’s rail plan: what’s in it and what was promised

Expected details of integrated rail plan, which has caused anger in north of England and Midlands

Ministers say the GBP96bn integrated rail plan, due to be published on Thursday, will deliver improvements quicker than original plans[1] for the HS2 eastern leg and Northern Powerhouse Rail. But critics in the north and Midlands say it is a “rail betrayal” and a watered down version of what was promised.

These are the expected changes, to be confirmed:


The plan: The high-speed line heading north-west will be built – but the eastern leg from Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds has been scrapped beyond the east Midlands. A brand new hub station at Toton, outside Nottingham, will also not be built.

What was promised: Originally, a full Y-shaped network linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Preliminary work on the eastern leg was paused after the Oakervee review.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The plan: Upgrades to the existing TransPennine line – much of which was separately promised to be delivered as part of a programme of improvements by Network Rail under Chris Grayling. It will bring full electrification and some new track.

Bradford-Leeds links are to be electrified and improved. Leeds is to get a new urban transit system.

What was promised: A high-speed line linking Manchester and Leeds, at the heart of plans drawn up by northern leaders and transport authorities for improved east-west connections across the region.

Northern planners said the line should go through under-served Bradford.

‘Always neglected’: Bradford braced for bad news in rail plan

Electrification and upgrades

The plan: The Midlands mainline, linking London and Sheffield, will be electrified in full and more work will be done to improve speed and capacity on the east coast line.

What was promised: The Midlands mainline electrification was in progress but stopped by Chris Grayling in 2017.

East coast upgrade work is in long-term progress and not yet clear if it is new money and additional projects.

Integrated and contactless ticketing.

The plan: Funding of GBP360m to introduce London-style contactless ticketing and integrated fares, linking some bus and tram networks.

What was promised: Reform of ticketing to improve journeys and connections has been long sought by regional transport authorities and agreed in principle, but not delivered, by ministers.


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  1. ^ quicker than original plans (
  2. ^ ‘Always neglected’: Bradford braced for bad news in rail planRead more (
  3. ^ Rail transport (
  4. ^ North of England (
  5. ^ Transport (
  6. ^ HS2 (
  7. ^ Transport policy (
  8. ^ Boris Johnson (
  9. ^ explainers (
  10. ^ Reuse this content (