DfT Press release – Biggest ever public investment in Britain’s rail network will level up more places, more quickly

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will unveil plans to overhaul and modernise rail connections, with passengers seeing benefits ten years sooner than under previous plans
  • At £96bn, the biggest ever public investment in the rail network will transform journeys to and between the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West
  • Ambitious plan focuses on local services as well as high-speed links, improving connections for everyone, not just those travelling between biggest cities

Faster train journeys will be delivered up to ten years sooner under the Government’s new Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), with biggest ever £96bn investment in the rail network unveiled today (Thursday 18 November).

From London and across the Pennines, the IRP delivers journey times which are the same as, similar to or faster than the original HS2 and Leeds-Manchester proposals, while doubling or trebling capacity and ensuring passengers and consumers benefit from tangible changes more quickly.

The new plan – full details of which will be published on Thursday – will not only strengthen connections between major cities in the North and Midlands, but improve shorter-distance routes which people depend on every day, with an emphasis on increasing capacity and more reliable services.  

With £360m allocated for London-style contactless ticketing across commuter rail networks, the IRP is designed to improve not just rail links but to deliver price-capped integrated ticketing with local buses and trams – simplifying and streamlining thousands of daily journeys across the Midlands and the North.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“If we are to see levelling up in action now, we must rapidly transform the services that matter to people most.

“That’s why the Integrated Rail Plan will be the biggest transport investment programme in a century, delivering meaningful transport connections for more passengers across the country, more quickly – with both high-speed journeys and better local services, it will ensure no town or city is left behind.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Throughout the pandemic, we stood by our railway and invested billions to keep the country moving, and we are about to unleash a £96 billion programme of investment that will transform a Victorian network into one befitting a modern country.

“The Integrated Rail Plan is designed to deliver for everyone, much sooner than under previous plans for rail schemes drawn up a decade ago, which no longer fit the way we travel today.

“Our plan will deliver a network that is fit for passengers today and for future generations – a network that works for every community and every passenger, right across the UK.”

The IRP was initiated after the Oakervee Review recommended an assessment of major transport schemes, like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, to produce a plan that would truly deliver for the North and the Midlands. This included looking at how to increase capacity and have more frequent services in a way that presented value for money for the taxpayer. 

The IRP was drawn up after it became clear that the full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail schemes as originally proposed would not enter service until the early to mid-2040s. It is framed by the Government’s commitment to deliver on its levelling up agenda by transforming connectivity for people right across the country and unlocking productivity in the North and the Midlands.

£360m investment to transform rail ticketing across the country

  • £360m invested to radically reform and overhaul rail passengers’ experience of fares, ticketing and retailing
  • Contactless tap-in and tap-out ticketing to be at more than 700 stations across the country outside London and the South East with 400 stations across the North set to benefit
  • Investment marks first stage of plan to roll out convenient and modern digital ticketing across the whole rail network, improving thousands of daily commutes and simplifying journeys

£360 million will be invested to radically reform and improve passengers’ experience of fares, ticketing, and retailing on the railways. 

This will see contactless tap-in and tap-out ticketing at more than 700 stations across the country outside London and the South East, benefitting more than 400 stations across the North.

Over the next three years, the Government will roll out contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing across the commuter networks of the Midlands and North – introducing London-style price caps and greater integration with local bus and tram networks.

This is just the first stage of the Government’s commitment to roll out convenient and modern digital ticketing across the whole rail network, improving thousands of daily commutes, simplifying journeys and ensuring passengers are charged the best price.

It will also help to create a rail network which will not only delivers the types of journeys that create jobs, supports businesses and unlocks housing opportunities, but will level up the Midlands and the North to become an economic powerbase to rival London and the South-East.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Passengers across the North and Midlands have waited far too long to see the same fast, easy and convenient ticketing as those in London. We’re determined to put that right.

“Today’s investment is just the first phase of our efforts to overhaul our rail network, focused on improving journeys for passengers right across the country.”

This comes ahead of the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), and once the full programme is delivered, cities across the North of England will have access to a contactless ticketing scheme.

The IRP will shortly set out how the government intends to transform rail across the North and Midlands, while delivering benefits for passengers far sooner than under previous plans.