Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has told the CN Summit he expected work on TransPennine route enhancements to start in CP6.
Speaking to broadcaster Andrew Neil at the Summit this morning, Mr Carne said he believed work on the new route would begin in the next funding round, which is due to run from 2019 to 2024.
The Network Rail boss, who is due to present a report on options for the new line to the government next month, said the new scheme would deliver passenger benefits between Manchester and Leeds “to begin with”.
Mr Carne said: “We are close to publishing that study. I am sure [TransPennine] will happen, it is the core part of the route that needs capacity links.
“I believe it will start within the CP6 – it won’t be a big bang conclusion, it will be a whole sequence of smaller projects which will deliver benefits [and] will reduce journey times.”
In October an Amey-Bam Nuttall alliance was confirmed as the team to develop several of the planned upgrades on the TransPennine route.
Mr Carne defended the decision to scrap a number of electrification projects including the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff and Swansea at a saving of £200m, as well as the Midland Main Line, arguing that the schemes did not pose good value for money.
Commenting on the Midland Main Line, Mr Carne said: “We think we can achieve the passenger objectives in better ways than electrification.
“By focusing on the outcomes, we end up with better solutions.”
The Network Rail chief executive added that the electrification of the GWR was the “biggest problem child” of the current investment period.
Mr Carne added: “It was a textbook example of how not to run a project.
“The delivery of the GWR is fantastic but in early phases, commitments were made that were not based on adequate work.
“None of the work was done in sufficient detail when the initial cost estimate was given. When we started this control period it was £1.2bn; now it is £2.8bn.
“It was the biggest problem child of CP5.”