Decoding the ‘unpause’
Work to electrify the TransPennine North and Midland Main Line is to be ‘unpaused’ under plans announced today, the Department for Transport claimed.
[TransPennine and Midland Mainline electrification works to resume, DfT, 30 September 2015]
Sir Peter Hendy has outlined to the Secretary of State for Transport how work could continue. The Secretary of State has replied to the Chair of Network Rail asking Network Rail to un-pause this work.
Network Rail will work with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Rail North to develop a new plan for electrification of the TransPennine line between Stalybridge and Leeds and on to York and Selby to focus on delivering key passenger benefits as quickly as possible. This is an improvement on the previous plan which only changed the power supply of the trains.
The new plan will deliver faster journey times and significantly more capacity between Manchester, Leeds and York. The upgrade is expected to provide capacity for 6 fast or semi-fast trains per hour, take up to 15 minutes off today’s journey time between Manchester and York and be complete by 2022. When the work is finished, the whole route from Liverpool to Newcastle (via Manchester, Leeds and York) will be fully electrified and journey times will be significantly reduced compared to today’s railway.
Network Rail will also recommence work to electrify Midland Mainline, the vital long-distance corridor which serves the UK’s industrial heartland. Sir Peter Hendy is proposing that line speed and capacity improvement works already in hand are added to, with electrification of the line north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby by 2019 and the line North of Kettering to Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Sheffield by 2023.
New Northern and TransPennine rail franchise awards will be announced before the end of the year.
[…] Chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy said:
“The temporary pause in the programme has given us the space to develop a better plan for passengers. People can expect more services and faster journeys. We face some difficult challenges, and there is more work still to do, but the Secretary of State’s decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify TransPennine and Midland Mainline”.
But the “temporary pause in the TPN programme to give the space to develop a better plan for passengers” actually seems to be set to continue until 2017.
[Extract from Peter Hendy’s letter to Patrick McLoughlin, 29 Sep 2015]
Network Rail is already carrying out, and has not paused, significant interventions in the route to improve journey times and speed, and this will continue.
However, in order to ensure expenditure is not wasted on abortive works, my advice is that a full planning exercise should start immediately with all the relevant parties — Network Rail, Department for Transport and Transport for the North – involved. This will establish a firm detailed design which increases benefits to passengers compared to the previous paused scheme, and this will be concluded by the end of 2017. During this time we should also explore the best methods of delivery on the Trans-Pennine route, bearing in mind the need to keep the railway operational, but also the need for necessary access to the railway for the works. My advice is that commencing electrification at the beginning of 2018 (with some enabling works carried out before then) could result in delivery by end 2022. Hence while this is a decision for you, my advice is that the project can be un-paused with immediate effect.
Judging by Mr Hendy’s letter to Patrick McLoughlin, the MML electrification unpause is being replaced by a MML electrification go-very-slow.
There’s no information about the knock-on or budgetary effects, but Control Period 6 seems to be becoming the new Control Period 5.