A NEW high-speed train line between Warrington and Manchester has been announced.

As part of the Integrated Rail Plan, a £96bn package of rail construction and upgrades for the Midlands and the north, one of the three new lines will involve Warrington.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail will be between Warrington, Manchester and Marsden in Yorkshire.

More detail is expected later but it is likely the move would see a new station built near Bank Quay.

The new line could include the current Arpley sidings.

Warrington South MP Andy Carter said the announcement will bring real benefit to the town centre and free up the existing lines.

Northern confirmed yesterday the crowded Manchester to Liverpool line will mean less Warrington to Manchester services in the short term.

The scheme could cut journey times between Warrington and Leeds to around 45 minutes.

A timetable could see work starting in late 2030s and finishing in early 2040s.

There is also a plan to electify the line between Warrington and Liverpool.

It will make use of the Fiddlers Ferry Freight line from Warrington Bank Quay to the Ditton area with the route to Liverpool then using the west coast main line to Lime Street station.

However the announcement has brought anger from many political leaders in the north.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham called it a 'championship' option when a Premier League one was needed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited Warrington this afternoon, said: “My mission is to level up opportunity across our country, which is why we’re making train journeys faster and more reliable through the biggest ever public investment in our rail network.

“This is because better rail connections are essential for growing local economies and businesses, and our Integrated Rail Plan will deliver better services to more people, more quickly.

Warrington Guardian: File photo dated 11/02/20 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Curzon Street railway station in Birmingham where the HS2 rail project is under construction. December 13th 2020 marks the first anniversary of Mr Johnson's General Election

“Levelling up has to be for everyone, not just the biggest cities. That’s why we will transform transport links between our biggest cities and smaller towns, ensuring we improve both long-distance and vital local services and enabling people to move more freely across the country wherever they are.”

Warrington South MP Andy Carter added: "To see Warrington feature so prominently in the Government's Integrated Rail Plan released today is really re-assuring. I’ve consistently called for better links to Manchester and Liverpool because constituents have told me they want the Government to prioritise this. The Government have taken note and we’re getting the infrastructure our town needs.

Warrington Guardian:

“A new high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and a plan to use the Fiddlers Ferry Line to Liverpool will release capacity on the existing network for commuter trains and freight and will allow a new station hub to be created at Warrington Bank Quay, using the lower level lines through Arpley sidings.

“This plan will have real benefits for Warrington town centre, the link between Northern Powerhouse Rail and the West Coast Mainline will make the town an attractive place to locate and I want to see the benefits of this £96bn package realised as soon as possible, people cannot wait forever to see material differences.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our plan is ambitious, deliverable and backed by the largest single government investment ever made in our rail network. It will deliver punctual, frequent and reliable journeys for everyone, wherever they live.

“Just as the Victorians gave this country our railways nearly 200 years ago, this Integrated Rail Plan will create a modern, expanded railway fit for today and future generations. Significant improvements will be delivered rapidly, bringing communities closer together, creating jobs and making places more attractive to business, and in doing so, rebalancing opportunity across the country.

“Our plans go above and beyond the initial ambitions of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail by delivering benefits for communities no matter their size, right across the North and Midlands, up to 10 to 15 years earlier.”

Warrington Guardian:

The announcement was made in the Commons this morning.

As well as the investment in Warrington, the HS2 link to Leeds will be scrapped.

Labour's shadow transport secretary described the integrated rail plan announcement as a "great train robbery".

Jim McMahon added that the Government had "betrayed" the North.

The Oldham West and Royton MP said Boris Johnson had broken a promise on HS2 made "60 times" in the past few years, adding: "Boris Johnson was elected to level the playing fields, to make things better for households across the country.

"We were promised a Northern Powerhouse, we were promised a Midlands Engine, to be levelled up. But what we have been given today is a great train robbery."

Labour's frontbench also contested the £96 billion headline figure promised for northern rail projects in the Government's integrated rail plan.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: "£96 billion, £40 billion of which has already been committed from London to Crewe, but is being labelled as investment across the North of England, and of the £56 billion that remains let us compare that to what the North of England would have got over the last decade had it had the same  investment as London and the South-east: We are still £10 billion short."

He added: "We are not going to accept crumbs off the table."

Clare Hayward MBE DL, Chair of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP said:“We welcome the greater certainty that the Integrated Rail Plan provides on the Crewe HS2 hub, its strategic location nationally, and the inclusion of the Crewe Northern Connection within the HS2 programme. 

"We also welcome the confirmation of a new Northern Powerhouse Rail line and station which will allow easy interchange with Warrington Back Quay Station, connecting Warrington with Manchester Airport and Manchester via HS2. We now want to work with Government to ensure that all of our communities and residents can benefit from these and other investments announced today.

“Wider connectivity across a fully connected north will allow Cheshire and Warrington to achieve its full potential. 

"We note that some of the major schemes for the north will not now go ahead, but that alternatives are being proposed.  We will be taking time to properly consider the detail of the plan, the implications of these alternatives and what they mean for our communities and businesses.”

Warrington Guardian: Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham speaks at the Labour Party conference in Brighton

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the North had been given a "distinctly second best" package.

He told a press conference: "Cross-northern connectivity is not the priority that has driven this plan.

"It is a second-class option, a Championship option when we needed a Premier League option, because you cannot level up the North of England on second best and I'm afraid this is distinctly second best.

"The truth of the matter is the North of England is fed up with second best."

A letter signed by northern political leaders and sent to Mr Johnson says the deal will not unlock the full potential of the north.

It was not signed by Warrington Borough Council.

Liverpool City Region's mayor Steve Rotheram said the North was having to settle for "scraps off the table".

Warrington Guardian: Steve Rotheram

The Labour mayor told a press conference: "What message does it send to the millions across the Red Wall who lent the Prime Minister their votes in 2019? Perhaps we'll find out soon.

"It's the same old story, again and again. If the North had received the same per capita funding as London over the last decade, we'd have had £86 billion more.

"Once again, they have asked us to settle for scraps off the table, a cheap and nasty solution to a problem facing nearly 15 million people across the North, and that's just not on."