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UK Government releases Growth Plan prioritising rail project acceleration

  • United Kingdom
  • Infrastructure
  • Governments and Infrastructure
  • Transport


On 23 September 2022 the Government announced a “Growth Plan” which includes a focus on delivering HS2 and a commitment to prioritising investment in 10 rail projects. The Growth Plan is available here.

The Growth Plan notes that the identified projects may benefit from acceleration through planning reform, regulatory reform, improved processes or other options to speed up their development and construction, including through development consent processes. The projects are to be “accelerated as fast as possible, aiming to get the vast majority starting construction by the end of 2023.”

There is a focus on the acceleration of wider local transport project too, including the West Midlands’ Metro network extension and Liverpool City Region Authority plan for the expansion of battery electric multiple unit operation.

The identified projects include the construction of new stations in Cambridge and West Yorkshire, improvements to Leeds station and the reintroduction of passenger services on a railway in Northumberland between Newcastle and Ashington via Blyth. The identified infrastructure improvements include improving rail connectivity in the East Midlands and North of England which will upgrade the Midland Main line to be electrified by a further 139km and the Manchester, Leeds and York “Transpennine route” to also be electrified. The “East West Rail” project between Oxford and Cambridge and the “Northern Powerhouse Rail” project (involving the construction of a new high speed line across Manchester (between Warrington and Standedge tunnel (west of Huddersfield), and upgrading of existing North of England lines) are promoted for acceleration too. Any projects listed on the non-exhaustive list contained in the Growth Plan are not guaranteed funding, planning consent or approval for other regulatory or permitting processes.

It should be noted that there is crossover between the contents of the Growth Plan and that of the Integrated Rail Plan (“IRP”) – being the £96.4 billion rail infrastructure investment plan which was announced in November 2021. Our briefing on the IRP can be found here.

The IRP confirmed investment for HS2 to be constructed from Birmingham to Crewe and Manchester, and from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway. Whilst there is no mention in the Growth Plan of the “Midland Rail Hub” options that were to be progressed under IRP, certain IRP projects, such as the Midland Main Line and Transpennine route electrification have seen upgrade work start. At a local level, “West Yorkshire Mass Transit” (which was announced in the IRP as a project to receive funding to develop transit options) is confirmed in the Growth Plan as a project to be progressed.

Whilst the Growth Plan has at its core a commitment to prioritising acceleration of existing IRP projects (and other pre-existing projects that were not part of IRP), the plan does not detail how that acceleration will be achieved. This will be an area to monitor with interest.

How we can help

If there are any aspects of the Growth Plan that you would like to explore further then our team are on hand to discuss and explain how our expertise can help you.