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Transpennine Route project update announced

Transpennine Route project update announced
photo: Transpennine line
03 / 06 / 2021

On 26 May, the UK Government confirmed £401m of funding for the next phase of the Transpennine line upgrade, the Oxford redevelopment and three new stations.

The announcement was accompanied by confirmation of an additional £317m investment in Network rail's Transpennine Route Upgrade programme to upgrade the corridor between Leeds, Manchester, and York.

In July last year, the government announced £589 million for the first phase of the program, allowing NR to award contracts for the next phase of the project activity and construction enabling work to support partial electrification at 25 kV 50 Hz, another through the platform for Huddersfield and 13 km of four-track sets.

The latest funding will allow improvements and electrification between York and Church Fenton to be completed and support the further development of the wider program. This will include construction work to improve line speed, electrification of sections of Manchester -Stalybridge, Huddersfield - Leeds and Church Fenton - York, and station work.

The update of the business plan and the return of the program is due to be completed this summer. The project will already take into account complete electrification, further improvement of line speed, further work at stations, and provision of digital signaling, as well as the clearance gauge and possibilities of improving freight throughput, especially for intermodal transport.

"It's great to see the launch of the next round of funding for major works on this route, which will start at a rapid pace," said Tim Wood, interim managing director of Transport for the North. He said "we still need certainty throughout the proposal," with TfN believing that the trans-Pennine route "should be completely electrified and fully in the W10/W12 gauge to support the growth of cargo movement from our northern ports."

"Modernization will be a timely test of the government's new approach to integrated rail. How this work will be managed in the coming years will be key to the confidence of rail passengers. Passengers will need to be informed of what this means for them and their journey and keep them informed of the progress of the work, " said David Sidebottom, director of think thank independent watchdog Transport Focus.

Rail Industry Association executive director Darren Caplan said that "our members will welcome the government's confirmation of further electrification work on the Trans Pennine line and look forward to meeting to electrify the entire route."

"We hope that today's announcement will launch a large-scale electrification program for lines across the country," Caplan said, adding that "a sliding program of cost-effective electrification – connected with government support and fleet orders for hydrogen and battery trains - is essential if the UK is to achieve its 2040 rail decarbonization targets and Net Zero security by 2050."

Labour's shadow rail minister Tan Dhesi said it was " another announcement of rail infrastructure without a timetable attached" and "will not replace the long-awaited and postponed integrated rail plan, which must now be published and include an ongoing electrification program, not the notification of sub-projects, which ultimately costs British taxpayers more."