100mph trains could be firing between Chester and Manchester by 2019.
An hourly service between the two cities will be running by 2017, as Arriva announced their plans for the Northern Rail franchise.
Faster, more frequent and refurbished trains with free WiFi to and from Chester across the region are promised under the ‘Northern Connect’ project.
A new link between the city and Leeds and improvements to the service to Merseyside are also in the pipeline.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We promised passengers a world class rail service that would make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.
“Arriva Rail North Ltd went far beyond our requirements with exciting, ambitious plans that will make a real difference to customers.
“This will help the region realise its full economic potential, ensuring it has a modern 21st century transport system.”
Arriva were named as the successful bidder for the Northern franchise on December 9.
More than a billion pounds will be invested in building new carriages, modernising existing ones and improving stations.
Arriva also aim to introduce more understandable fares and advance tickets which can be bought just 15 minutes before departure.
Arriva UK Trains managing director Chris Burchell said: “We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform rail travel for passengers in the north of England.
“By 2019, brand new 100mph trains will operate across the network including on the routes from Liverpool to Bradford, Manchester, Manchester Airport and Leeds.
“Our aim is to be the communities’ local railway and to leave a positive lasting legacy.”
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