The proposed upgrade of the TransPennine railway line has been earmarked for cash from a £10bn funding pot.
While it’s still not known what shape the upgrade will take, Network Rail has included it in its £47bn five-year Strategic Business Plan (SBP) for 2019 to 2024.
Electrification of the line is still not off the table, Network Rail say, but it’s chief executive Mark Carne has said the cost of electrification is “very expensive.”
A Network Rail spokesperson told the Examiner this week a series of options had been presented to the Department for Transport for the route.
She could not say what the options were but said: “The TransPennine Route Upgrade aims to deliver faster, longer, more frequent and more reliable services across the north of England from Newcastle, Hull and York towards Manchester and Liverpool via Leeds.
“Network Rail has worked on the development of potential infrastructure options for the TransPennine Route Upgrade and has now submitted these options to the Department for Transport (DfT) for consideration.”
The SBP for the TransPennine route upgrade says they want to cut 15 minutes off journey times between Manchester and York; increase the capacity with a sixth train per hour and longer trains and “electrification options of the route from Manchester Victoria to Leeds and on to York and Selby.”
As the Examiner has already revealed it will impact on local stopping services along the Colne Valley.
Network Rail says it expects the Department for Transport to make an assessment of the Outline Business Case this year.
The other two key projects named by Network Rail in their five-year plans are High Speed 2 - the section from London to Birmingham; plus the East West Rail Phase 2 (the western section) – re-establishing the rail link between Cambridge and Oxford to improve connections between East Anglia and central, southern and western England.
Among other promises by Network Rail are free toilets and drinking fountains at stations under its control; a plan to hire 50% more women over the next five years; and a digitalised signalling system to detect faults on the track allowing them to be corrected more quickly and Mr Carne said: “This plan builds on these improvements and sets out how we will make the railway more reliable and cost efficient and how we accelerate the technological transformation of our railway into the digital age.
“It is an ambitious, but realistic plan that is not without challenge, but with great people working together in great teams, it can deliver the better railway that a better Britain needs.”