CONSERVATIVE MPs are welcoming a government announcement of £589 million funding to begin vital upgrades on the Transpennine main line.

Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore and Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough MP Stuart Andrew say the investment will bring significant improvements for passengers, while boosting local economies.

The most congested section of the route will be doubled from two to four tracks, allowing fast trains to overtake slower ones. Most of the line will be electrified, and the government will also consider full electrification, along with digital signalling and improved freight capacity as part of a new integrated rail plan to be published in December.

The government says the improvements will allow all-electric services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, as well as longer and more frequent trains and significantly more local capacity along the line.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also announced the creation of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council, to give northern leaders a direct line to ministers, helping to cut red tape. The Council, which will be chaired by the Transport Secretary, will meet for the first time in September and be made up of mayors and council leaders.

Mr Moore said: “For too long, transport in the north of England has been an afterthought – it is hugely welcome to see Boris Johnson determined to turn this around.

“It’s brilliant to see huge investment and attention being plugged into transport in the north, which will cut journey times and improve services for passengers in Keighley and Ilkley, while providing a much-needed boost to our local economy.

“This Conservative Government was elected on a promise to level up transport across the country – and that is exactly what we are delivering.”

Mr Andrew said: ““Having campaigned hard during my time as a Member of Parliament for better transport infrastructure and funding in the North, I am delighted by this announcement and it is very much welcome news. I was very pleased to stand on a manifesto that put the North at the forefront of the agenda, as it has been long overdue, and I am encouraged by the steps being taken that show that the COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted this ambition and that we can indeed build back better as we recover from this virus.”

Mr Shapps said: “People across the North rightly expect action, progress and ambition and this government is determined to accelerate improvements as we invest billions to level up the region’s infrastructure.We are determined to build back better at pace, and this new council will allow us to engage collectively and directly with elected northern leaders to build the vital projects the region is crying out for.”