Previously-paused project has been improved and will see the two lines fully electrified with a reduction in train emissions
Work to electrify the TransPennine and Midland Mainline railways is to resume with improvements made to the previous plans after the projects were paused earlier this year.
Network Rail which owns and manages most of the rail infrastrucure in England, Scotland and Wales announced today (September 30) that the electrification work would continue after the go-ahead was given by the Transport Secretary.
It means fewer diesel-powered trains will run on both lines in future after the all work is completed by 2023, thereby reducing emissions directly from trains.
The projects were paused by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, in June 2015, citing rising costs and missed targets at Network Rail.
However, a new plan is now being developed by Network Rail, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Rail North for the electrification of the TransPennine line between Stalybridge and Leeds and on to York and Selby to focus on delivering key passenger benefits as quickly as possible.
And, according to the DfT, this plan is an improvement on the previous plan, which only changed the power supply of the trains.
The new plan is expected to deliver quicker journey times and more capacity between Manchester, Leeds and York and is set to be completed by 2022. When finished, the entire route from Liverpool to Newcastle (via Manchester, Leeds and York) will be fully electrified.
Work will also recommence on electrifying the Midland Mainline, with added capacity and line speed improvement works. Electrification of the line north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby is set to be completed by 2019 and the line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Sheffield by 2023.
Meanwhile, new Northern and TransPennine rail franchise awards are then set to be announced by the end of the year.
DfT said the electrification programme would completely transform the railways on both lines.
Chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy, said: 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 States decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify TransPennine and Midland Mainline.
It follows a recent study which found that air quality was worse inside Paddinton Station in London than on nearby roads outside as a result of diesel trains running into the station (see AirQualityNews.com story).
The Great Western Mainline is the longest non-electrified line in the UK and its terminus is Paddington Station, although work is underway to modernise and electrify the line.