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The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership has called on the Government to invest in the Humber rail network to support economic growth.

LEP Chairman Lord Haskins has written to the Transport Secretary to call for the investment to be included in the Government’s new five-year plan for the railways, which is due to be published this month.

The LEP says that infrastructure improvements are essential for the Humber to remain competitive. The upgrades proposed would include extending the current trans-Pennine electrification programme, which is due to go from Manchester to Leeds and York, on to Hull.

The Government is also being asked to restate its commitment to improve slow line speeds and outdated signalling infrastructure, such as between Hessle and Gilberdyke and Cleethorpes and Doncaster.

The LEP argues that gauge clearance to W10/12 standard is also required, which would mean raising the height of some overhead structures to enable larger containers to be transported from the Humber ports by rail.

Lord Haskins said: “We can’t afford to have a second class connection to the rest of the rail network so it is important that these improvements go ahead. Some smaller scale upgrades are already in the rail industry’s plans but they depend on Government funding, which is why we’re making our case.

“It would be a massive missed opportunity not to continue electrification on to Hull, which could threaten East Yorkshire’s future connectivity with Leeds and Manchester. It’s a mostly straight, flat route so it would be cost effective to do and enable faster and more frequent services.

“For the Humber ports to maintain their competitiveness they need to be able to take the largest containers by rail, so gauge clearance must also be added into the programme.”

The Department for Transport is due to publish its High Level Output Specification for the railways this month.