Monday, July 27, 2015

News: Transport bosses write to DfT over electrification pause

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Transport leaders in the Sheffield city region are writing to the Government to express concerns over the decision to "pause" an electrification project that would bring newer, faster and more reliable trains on the key route between London and the Sheffield.

Network Rail, the owners and operators of Britain's rail infrastructure, finalised its five year investment programme to 2019 (known as control period 5, or CP5) last year. It contained finalised £1.5 billion plans to electrify the Midland Mainline (MML) north of Bedford, working north. It was set to reach Corby at the end of 2017; Nottingham and Derby at the end of 2019 and Sheffield at the end of 2020.

The scheme, which was set to deliver more seats, improved performance and more space for freight on one of Britain's oldest railways, is on hold. In a speech last month that highlighted where Network Rail's performance has not been good enough, Patrick McLoughlin said that he was resetting Network Rail's investment programme to get it back on track.

A letter, jointly signed by the Chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, Local Enterprise Partnership and Transport Committee, would be sent to the Secretary of State for Transport expressing the region's concerns at this announcement.

The Sheffield city region is also actively lobbying for a reinstatement of the electrification programme with colleagues in the East Midlands.

Members of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee had previously been given assurances from Network Rail that the intended programme would be delivered.

David Young, interim director general at SYPTE, said at a meeting of the committee last week: "We were pressing to have it delivered by 2019 and had promises that it would be delivered by 2020. It is very disappointing and it is something that we should be making our views and concerns known to Government.

"Everybody shares the frustration at the pace of delivery of Network Rail and their ability to control costs, and that is a view shared by the Government itself which why they are taking the steps they are to intervene with the management of Network Rail. While they do that though, we can't afford to let the economy in the city region suffer as a result in under-investment and under-ambition in our local rail programme."

The region has previously been forced to write to the Department for Transport (DfT) to express some concerns about Network Rail and the delays to the £60m tram-train project and to seek a way to resolve them.

Images: Network Rail

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