Tuesday, December 17, 2013

News: Rail electrification plan for the North

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A joint taskforce set up by the Government will explore if South Yorkshire is next for rail electrification in the North.

As the region waits on the HS2 line to increase capacity on the rail network, work is also taking place to improve connectivity and capacity, and shorten journey times, between the North and London, and across the North.

For example, The Northen Hub project aims to reduce journey times and increase capacity between Manchester and Sheffield and has a reduced budget of £500m. The massive upgrading of the rail network of the North includes electrification and is set to create 20,000 jobs and increases rail capacity across the north of England by 700 services per day. Elements includes £45m for doubling Dore junction and Calder Valley journey time improvement.

The Northern Hub has the potential to improve services to the redeveloped Rotherham Central station in the future.

Network Rail has also committed to the electrification of the Midland Main Line that links London to Sheffield. It will allow more frequent, more reliable and quicker trains to run on the route. Network Rail had only planned to electrify parts of the line between Nottingham and St Pancras by December 2019, with Derby to Sheffield then expected to be electrified by December 2021 in Network Rail's next control period (CP6). The Government has however challenged Network Rail to re-prioritise the roll-out of the programme, for example by bringing electrification to Sheffield into CP5.

Now a new joint taskforce will provide the Transport Secretary with an interim report within 12 months setting out how additional schemes in the North can be brought forward and their development accelerated.

As part of Network Rail's ongoing work to identify the next generation of schemes that will be electrified as part of the government's continued rail investment, the routes to be examined will include: Sheffield – Leeds (which could include Rotherham Central); Sheffield – Doncaster and Sheffield – Manchester.

The group will involve train operators, local authorities including the Rail North consortium, the supply chain and local Members of Parliament.

Rail North is a group of transport organisation across the North of England. Its recently published Long Term Rail Strategy for the North of England placed Rotherham within an important "interconnected urban matrix" where a consistent high standard of express rail services would boost the economy.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Northern Rail, said: "The electrification announcement presents a great opportunity for the north.

"This is exactly what we want to deliver for our customers – faster, more reliable and environmentally sustainable journeys.

"As our customer numbers continue to grow, we desperately need more trains and newer trains to keep up with demand and ultimately, help drive economic growth. Further electrification will help to make this possible."

Images: Aedas

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