By Alex Johnston
An £85 million rail link between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria will create hundreds of jobs, and regenerate one of the city’s busiest areas, claims George Osborne.
The investment, which was announced in the Chancellor's budget this week, is seen as vital in updating rail links in Greater Manchester.
Known as the Ordsall Curve, the line will provide fast services to the forthcoming Airport City, and will improve intercity access, including a possible link between Salford Central and Oxford Road.
Councillor Ian Macdonald, Chair of the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA), said: “This is excellent news for Greater Manchester.”
As well as providing faster and more frequent trains for travellers, the project will benefit the brown field areas it will be built on.
Councillor Macdonald added: “The new line would also take advantage of plans to improve Victoria and regenerate the area around it.”
It is hoped the announcement will benefit the local economy both during and long after the development.
Councillor Keith Whitmore, Vice-Chair of GMITA, said: “Not only would the new line have considerable economic benefits once completed, but the construction of it would also create a significant number of jobs.”
‘Northern Hub’, Network Rail’s ambitious plan to update Manchester Victoria in order to accommodate higher-speed services to Leeds and Liverpool, and even as far as Newcastle will, when an announcement on its finances is made, transform transport links.
Manchester Victoria will be transformed into one of the busiest interchanges in the country, and its regeneration is viewed as a project of some significance.
Network Rail are delighted with the progress, and are keen to point out the advantages the line will have for rail users in both the short and long term.
Keith Lumley, of Network Rail in the North-West, said: “It’s the first public move towards being able to develop the Northern Hub project.”
Mr Lumley sees the announcement as an opportunity to begin developing Northern Hub, before an announcement has been made to fund that project.
“This lets us do some of the development work early,” he added. “Once the funding announcement is made we will be able to hit the ground running rather than wait another year or 18 months to do development work.”
Work is due to begin on the Ordsall Curve this year, with the Northern Hub expected to be completed by 2019.