PLANS for a massive expansion of York’s National Railway Museum - including a new Central Hall across Leeman Road - have been given an £18.5 million boost by the Government.

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said the money will "kickstart the radical transformation" of a museum at the cultural heart of the York Central redevelopment scheme.

“The exciting new gallery and exhibition spaces will ensure the museum continues to be a huge draw for visitors and a wonderful celebration of our country’s proud railway heritage,” she said.

Museum director Judith McNicol said the funding was "wonderful news" for the museum and city and an extremely significant milestone in realising its £55 million ‘Vision 2025’ campaign to turn the museum into a truly world-class attraction.

“It is the springboard for unlocking our role as the cultural heartbeat of York Central - one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in Europe.

“This gives us great momentum and with other funding secured to date, takes us over half way to realising the £55 million needed to deliver the entire scheme.”

She said the 2025 masterplan comprised eight projects including the new Central Hall, extensive landscaping of South Yard, a new collection building at Locomotion in Shildon, redisplaying the museum’s famous Great Hall and creating an engineering-themed Wonderlab Gallery.

“As well as reception spaces, our Central Hall will include a spectacular new exhibition gallery which will house new acquisitions and innovative rail technology,” she said.

“This will focus on the current and future rail industry and will complement our existing learning activities such as our Future Engineers programme, to ensure that the engineers of tomorrow, are inspired and developed here in York.”

She revealed that the museum had recently launched a competition to find a design team to work on the new building and it looked forward to welcoming York people to have their say on the proposed designs early next year.

“The design and build process will take place over the next few years and will be complete and open to the public in 2025 - to coincide with the museum’s 50th anniversary.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said the money, part of a "once-in-a-generation" £250 million package of funding for the cultural and creative sector, would ensure that the North of England remained a global powerhouse of culture.

“The world-class museums, exhibitions and cultural icons of the Northern Powerhouse don’t just make a major economic contribution to our region, they help to define the North’s shared identity and unique place in history,” he said.

The new Central Hall, which would be built across Leeman Road to link the two existing sides of the museum, cannot go ahead without a diversionary route for the road through the York Central site.

Essential Government funding of £77.1 million which would allow York Central to go ahead has not yet been announced.