Friday, March 6, 2015

News: Rail North outlines timetable for electrification

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The Northern Rail route between Sheffield and Doncaster that passes through Rotherham and the Dearne Valley should be electrified at the earliest opportunity.

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.

Rail North, a group of transport organisation across the North of England has presented its latest report to the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin outlining future electrification of rail links in the region.

The previously 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. The latest report focused on electrification and put economic growth and connectivity at the heart of their considerations, as part of the emerging "Northern Powerhouse" concept.

Thirty two routes were examined, and grouped into three distinct prioritisation tiers based on their ability to contribute to local economic plans, how they fit with other schemes, and the number of diesel kilometres of running they would replace. 12 routes were ranked in Tier One, highlighting that they would have the biggest impact on the wider economy. Including in this top tier is the route between Sheffield and Doncaster which passes through Meadowhall, Rotherham, Swinton, Mexborough and Conisbrough.

The report states that the schemes identified in Tier One should be taken forward urgently through a full business case analysis so that they can be properly considered in the funding cycle for Network Rail's next round of funding, known as Control Period 6 which covers 2019 to 2024. The Task Force recommends that this preparatory work is considered for immediate funding in the 2015-2016 financial year.

The route between Sheffield (Meadowhall) to Leeds via Barnsley / Castleford & connections is also included in Tier One with Manchester to Sheffield and Sheffield to Lincoln via Retford included in Tier Two.

Andrew Jones MP, who chaired the Electrification Task Force, said: "It is a comprehensive report detailing where we think the priorities lie for rail electrification in the north. We have placed economic growth at the heart of this project and been working on the premise that all the lines of the north would be electrified, it is only a question of when. This report details where it should start.

"The need for rail electrification is significant. It is part of the improvements in infrastructure that we need in the north. We know how much there is to do and to do it we are looking at a task of generational scale. Indeed, this report is intended to look years ahead."

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, added: "I am grateful to the members of the task force for their work. I want to see a rolling plan for further electrification and this study will have a vital part to play in setting the agenda for 2019 and beyond. Network Rail will take the task force's findings into account as it develops its nationwide plan to improve the nations railways."

The section of the Midland Mainline (MML) in the Sheffield city region will not be electrified in Network Rail's current spending period. The plan for the MML, which links Sheffield with the East Midlands and London St Pancras will deliver more seats, improved performance and more space for freight.

Network Rail plans to electrify the route north of Bedford, working north. It will reach Corby at the end of 2017; Nottingham and Derby will follow at the end of 2019 and Sheffield at the end of 2020.

Rail North website

Images: Network Rail

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