TransPennine and Midland Main Line railway electrification is back on line after the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, green flagged both projects.
Network Rail and the Department for Transport (DfT) plan a more ambitious electrification of the line between Stalybridge, Leeds, York and Selby. The new plan aims to significantly increase capacity between Manchester, Leeds and York as well as delivering faster journey times.
The upgrade will knock 15 minutes off today’s journey time between Manchester and York. The whole route from Liverpool to Newcastle, via Manchester, Leeds and York, will be fully electrified by 2022.
Meanwhile, the Midland Main Line, which serves Britain’s industrial heartland, will also benefit from increased line speed and capacity improvement with works already in hand to electrify the line north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby by 2019. Major electrification of the rest of the line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield will be completed by 2023.
Both projects had been stopped while Network Rail’s new chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, considered how Network Rail was going to resource and deliver the work.
Says Hendy, ‘The temporary pause in the programme has given us the space to develop a better plan for passengers. People can expect more services and faster journeys.
‘We face some difficult challenges, and there is more work still to do, but the Secretary of State’s decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify TransPennine and Midland Main Line.’
The rail industry has broadly welcomed the news.
‘The pause to these major schemes affected the whole of our membership, from design engineers to train builders, from contractors to consultants, and manufacturers of everything from rails to computer systems,’ said Railway Industry Association (RIA) director general Jeremy Candfield.
‘Delivering projects of this scale efficiently requires considerable planning and investment in skills and resources across the whole supply chain. We will continue to work closely with Network Rail in developing a robust and achievable programme for these and the ongoing electrification work,’ he said.