The Northern Hub rail upgrade programme has got underway which aims to improve services across Manchester and further afield.

Metrolink team VolkerRail and Laing O'Rourke in consortium with Thales have started work on the first phase of the £600 million project. This initial stage will see £20 million spent on renovating rail links and the station at Manchester Airport. This provides a direct connection from Manchester city centre to one of the UK's biggest airports and will aim to speed up journey times and frequency.

Chancellor George Osborne launched the Northern Hub programme which is set to generate 20,000 new jobs and also provide a significant boost to the northern economy. Mr Osborne was at the Manchester Airport station site to meet with staff working on the development and explained how the work would transform rail connection in the north of England.

"The government’s long term plan is about securing a recovery for all parts of the country. Because of the tough decisions we’ve taken on day-to-day spending, we’re able to invest in key infrastructure projects like the Northern Hub, which will create billions for the region," Mr Osborne said.

Officials stated that once completed in 2019 the improvements will be able to facilitate 700 extra trains every day, freeing up space for 44 million passengers every year. Network Rail also stated that it estimates around £4 billion will be provided to the region's economy once the system is up and running.

Upgrading the transport network has been a main focus in the Manchester area in recent years with Transport for Greater Manchester extending the Metrolink tram system. As well as expanding the service to the likes of Droylsden, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham and Rochdale, there are also plans in place to have a dedicated tram line to service Manchester Airport in the coming years.

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