The government has today announced an £84 million funding package to make train services in the North West “more reliable”.
According to transport ministers, the money will be used to fund a package of infrastructure upgrades such as track improvements, platform extensions for longer trains, and larger local depots, which are all said to transform the day-to-day journeys of train passengers in the region.
Passenger facilities will be enhanced at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, and Manchester Airport stations, thanks to the funding, and will also allow for re-signalling along the city’s notoriously congested Castlefield Corridor, and the remodelling of Manchester Oxford Road station.
Work on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) also continues with the electrification and re-signalling of the line and track renewals, which is aiming to deliver faster, more frequent, and reliable trains for passengers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it “kicks off a decade’s worth of improvements”.
He added: “This £84 million investment will make trains more reliable for the people of Manchester and beyond.
“The Transpennine Route Upgrade, the Integrated Rail Plan and Northern Powerhouse Rail will transform the lives of passengers across the region for generations to come [and] as we level up the country, we’re determined to use rail to boost local economies, create greener journeys and change lives for the better.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has previously described the “lack of investment in rail over the past decade” in the North West region as “a drag on realising our ambition”.
Speaking on the new £84 million investment, Mr Burnham added that a “reliable and dependable railway which provides a high-quality travelling experience” connecting major northern cities is “an important ingredient for the long-term success of our city-region and the wider area”.
He continued: “Today’s announcement is a welcome step forward and I look forward to continuing to work with Government and the industry.
“This is just the start of the infrastructure investment needed.
“We need to push on with a comprehensive package of improvements which will help to secure a successful future for rail travel in our region for generations to come.”
The funding boost also comes as a controversial new rail timetable is planned for Manchester from December.
Mr Burnham has previously warned that it will lead to many passengers “standing up all the way” between Manchester and Leeds due to a lack of seats, but the Department for Transport (DfT) disagrees with that claim, and insists the new timetable will provide “more punctual, reliable journeys for passengers”.
Manchester United reject offers for Mason Greenwood as rep says he ‘should be allowed to move forward with his young life’
Manchester United have reportedly rejected a number of offers for Mason Greenwood as the club continues their internal investigation into his behaviour.
The club have reportedly received a number of offers for the young forward from Turkish teams in recent weeks and months while Greenwood has been suspended from playing or training. He has yet to return to the sport after charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm were dropped.
The charges handed down in January 2022 were ultimately dropped last month when key witnesses withdrew, more than a year on from the incident that was widely circulated on social media.
Now, following a behind-the-scenes feature by The Athletic and ‘new material’ leading the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the case for the foreseeable, it seems United are now the only party still investigating Greenwood, with his own team and figures around the club pushing for a resolution.
Speaking to Laurie Whitwell as part of the piece, one of Greenwood’s representatives argued that there is “no real substance” to the allegations, them “a mix of old news, speculation, half-truths and completely untrue claims.”
He went on to say, “Mason is 21, he has been cleared and should be allowed the opportunity to rebuild and move forward with his young life.”
Another source is also said to have told the outlet that the youngster has been fundamentally changed by the experience, insisting that he “would run through a brick wall” to be back playing at United.
As for the club’s stance, it remains to be seen what their final decision on his future will be, but it was reported earlier this month that a potential return is still “firmly under consideration” and his number 11 shirt has not yet been vacated as many would have expected if he was set to move on.
On the other hand, the article goes on to detail questions surrounding Greenwood’s conduct and general attitude during his relatively short time as a senior player too, the suggestion being that he was slacking in training because “he knew he was a good player”.
His attendance at Carrington is said to have been raised as an issue on more than one occasion and then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær often covered for training sessions and games he missed after failing to turn up to the team hotel for “unexplained absences”.
Another source who watched him play aged just 16 also went on to reveal that Bradford-born academy product “wasn’t shy about telling someone they were s***”, apparently even calling out Cristiano Ronaldo as “dead [finished]” when he was still at Real Madrid.
Greenwood played over 100 senior games for United and was widely considered one of the brightest young prospects in England, let alone the club, but the career trajectory he looked to be on is widely different from the problematic position he finds himself in now, regardless of any offers from abroad.
So, after setting up a fake consultancy firm based out of Seoul, South Korea called Hanseong Consulting and inviting along a number of MPs, many of whom either previously held or currently sit in senior party positions, they began holding Zoom interviews with the various candidates to see if they’d be interested.
More importantly, however, the crucial question was “how much would they want to be paid?”. The likes of former Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng had very simple but nevertheless astounding answers:
As you can see in the trailer for the full mini-documentary, both the former health secretary and the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted their day rate as up to £10,000.
In fact, Hancock broke down his figures even further, insisting that an hourly rate would equate to “around £1,500”. Wonder how that sizes up to the fee he was paid to be on I’m A Celeb? (yes, that wasn’t a fever dream, it really happened). We’ll let you do the nauseating maths on that one.
Other Tories who were duped into putting themselves forward for the made-up job included Gavin Williamson, Stephen Hammond and the Chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee (a private members group known to influencers backbenchers), Sir Graham Brady.
Well, they were the only ‘candidates’ to have issued statements after the fact trying to play down the story, anyway. The campaigners approached 20 different MPs under the guise of the fabricated company, with other individuals dropping out in more preliminary stages.
After having asked for £60k a year on top of his £48k annual salary as the representative for Manc constituency Altrincham and Sale West, this would have been Brady’s fourth job besides his two marketing and comms advisory roles, but assured he would always act “within the Code of Conduct”.
Hammond had more to say on the matter, responding that “scamming is an unpleasant activity undertaken with malicious intent”, while Hancock’s office responded by labelling it a “failed attempt at entrapment” and insisted he is free to look at “exploratory options” as he is set to stand down as an MP.
Led By Donkeys are now in the process of gradually releasing each one of the fake job interviews in full on their YouTube channel.