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PM backs new rail route to ‘turbo charge’ regional growth


By Sam Coates, deputy political editor

Boris Johnson will outline key policy commitments – including a new rail route between Manchester and Leeds – in his first speech outside Westminster as prime minister.

He will travel to Manchester on Saturday morning for the wide-ranging speech designed to cover the main parts of his domestic agenda, including investment in education, tackling crime, boosting connectivity, and improving technology across the country.

He will claim the announcement will "turbo charge" regional growth and prosperity, and that one of his top domestic priorities will be to level out opportunities and unlock the potential not just of London and the South East, but of every corner of the UK.

Pledging new intercity rail routes, with Manchester to Leeds as the first step, the prime minister is expected to say: "I want to be the PM who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did with Crossrail in London.

"And today I am going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route.


"It will be up to local people and us to come to an agreement on the exact proposal they want, but I have tasked officials to accelerate their work on these plans so that we are ready to do a deal in the autumn."

The new route is expected to cut journey times significantly and provide additional capacity for people across the region.

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Downing Street said detailed plans would be published in the autumn following a review of HS2.

Image: London's Crossrail is behind schedule and over budget

"This is a seminal moment for the north," said Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison.

"It is heartening to see the first major policy announcement by the new prime minister is to benefit the north – matching the commitment of businesses already investing here."

Building on his commitments when he entered Downing Street, the prime minister will also set out his vision to rebalance power, growth and productivity across the UK, and will say his focus will not just be on major infrastructure projects.

Mr Johnson will pledge to "improve the unglamorous local services which people use every day," such as buses, saying it is about "services within cities, not just services between cities".

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