FASTER trains between Liverpool and Newcastle were back on track today after the government said the electrification programme it halted, is to be restarted.
Work on the TransPennine Express Railway - between Manchester and York - was stopped in June, but Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin has approved the re-start.
Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, said the "temporary pause" had "given us the space to develop a better plan".
Electrification of the stretch of the Trans-Pennine link between Liverpool and Manchester was finished earlier this year as part of a multi-million pound project to speed up west-eat rail journeys.
The TransPennine upgrade is expected to provide capacity for six "fast or semi-fast trains" per hour between Manchester, Leeds and York , reducing journey times by up to 15 minutes.
The Manchester to York section of the work is now planned to be completed by 2022.
When the work is finished, the whole route from Liverpool to Newcastle (via Manchester, Leeds and York) will be fully electrified and journey times will be significantly reduced compared to today’s railway.
Sir Peter said the electrification of the Midland Mainline north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby will now be completed by 2019, and the line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and to Sheffield will finish by 2023.
"We face some difficult challenges, and there is more work still to do, but the secretary of state's decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify TransPennine and Midland Mainline," he added.
The announcement was mentioned at Manchester Airport. A spokeswoman there said: "We welcome news that the Secretary of State has asked Network Rail to press ahead with new plans for TransPennine electrification. It is vital that Government commits to improving rail journeys across the North, pushes ahead with high speed rail and treats the TransPennine improvements as a key first step in a longer term programme to accelerate growth across the region.
"A globally competitive region needs world class infrastructure, and M.A.G is investing £1 billion in facilities at Manchester Airport, a key component of the UK transport network. The results will be transformative for Manchester Airport, enabling us to double the number of passengers we can handle. Supported by improved access across the North, Manchester Airport will play a crucial role in both solving the UK’s capacity needs and delivering on the Government’s vision of a 'Northern Powerhouse'.
"By reducing journey times and providing more capacity between Manchester, Leeds and York, TransPennine electrification will significantly improve connectively across the region, open up airport capacity and benefit the UK as a whole."