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Northern Powerhouse Rail plans postponed

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The submission of the £35bn Northern Powerhouse Rail strategic business plan is being delayed until next year to allow it to be “fine-tuned”, LGC’s sister title New Civil Engineer reports.

It had been due to be handed into transport secretary Chris Grayling by the end of December.

But Transport for the North said following discussions with its members, a decision had been made “to make space for further fine-tuning” which would allow its members to “feed-in fully and have chance to digest all the details”.

A TfN spokesperson said: “Transport for the North has produced a strategic outline business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail which is now under consideration by members. This is one of the largest transport intervention programmes seen in the UK and will change the lives of millions of people.

“As such it deserves full consideration by leaders from across the North before it is submitted to government.

“To make Northern Powerhouse Rail a reality, we’ll put forward a robust and transformative case for the North, particularly ahead of the spending review next year.”

TfN said that despite delaying its submission, the overall timescales for the project would not be affected and it was “confident” it would be ready to submit to the government early in the new year.

The delay follows an announcement in September this year that the High Speed 2 phase 2b hybrid Bill was being delayed to ensure plans for the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme were incorporated into its design.

Speaking to New Civil Engineer earlier this month, TfN director of Northern Powerhouse Rail Tim Wood said the project was planned to be delivered differently by involving contractors before the usual early contractor involvement stage, as well as spending more money upfront on ground investigations to design out the risk.

The rail project will connect Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield and is the third project on the list of projected infrastructure spends over the next 20 years in the National Infrastructure Commission’s national infrastructure assessment.

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