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The UK’s “full-to-capacity railway infrastructure” is a problem that “we cannot build our way out of – we have to innovate our way out of”, according to Network Rail Digital Railway group managing director David Waboso (quoted by

[‘Our systems are at capacity; we cannot build our way out – we must innovate’ – Digital Railway chief, Sam Trendall,, 20 July 2017]

[…] “A lot of our systems are at capacity. We cannot speed more trains through Manchester, London, or Leeds,” Waboso said. “We cannot build our way out of this – and HS2 or a Crossrail are once-in-a-generation projects.

“We need to innovate our way out of it.”
“We have an army of people in orange crawling over the infrastructure,” he added. “We have to really challenge ourselves – is that really necessary?”


On a visit to Manchester last week, transport secretary Chris Grayling said the railway between Leeds and Manchester is ‘unlikely to be fully electrified’, and he was ‘reviewing a plan to build two platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station to cope with extra trains‘.

[Leeds to Manchester railway unlikely to be fully electrified, says Chris Grayling, Andy Bounds, FT, 21 July 2017]

Rail improvements the government has previously deemed vital to its Northern Powerhouse plan to tackle the north-south divide may not go ahead, the transport secretary said on Friday.
He said that instead trains that could switch between electric and diesel power, called bi-mode locomotives, were likely to operate on the Leeds to Manchester route.
Mr Grayling said he had ordered Network Rail, owner of the rail infrastructure, to review plans to build two platforms as part of a £600m “Northern Hub” plan that includes connecting Victoria and Piccadilly stations in Manchester.
Mr Grayling said: “I want them [Network Rail] to see if it is question of additional platforms or whether they can do something with digital technology that actually increases capacity.”

Whether ‘Northern Hub Two Extra Platforms’ or ‘Digital Railway’ are a real solution to the conflicting movements and flat junctions in Manchester, is questionable. The definitive solution would probably entail a Leipzig-style underground connection between Victoria and Piccadilly (in other words, a 21st century version of the 1970s Picc-Vic scheme), but no Northern politicians seem to be interested.

Written by beleben

July 25, 2017 at 10:23 am

Posted in HS2, Politics, Railways

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