MORE than two weeks of speculation have ended with confirmation from the Department for Transport that the 'North TransPennine' electrification scheme mentioned in the Chancellor's autumn statement does cover Manchester to York, rather than stopping at Leeds.
But it's now been revealed that the wires could be set to run much further, subject to satisfactory business cases, and cover more routes, including those to Hull and Middlesbrough.
There has been a debate within the industry about the implications of the announcements by the Chancellor just over two weeks ago, with some reports saying that the Leeds to York section was included, and others pointing to official documents which apparently ruled it out, including the Treasury's own National Infrastructure Plan.
The first official indication that Leeds to York was part of the scheme came from transport secretary Justine Greening, when she gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee two days ago.
In answer to a question about electrification from York Outer MP, Conservative Julian Sturdy, Ms Greening started to answer, and then appeared to correct herself.
"It's a route between Manchester and Leeds – Manchester and York via Leeds," she said.
Mr Sturdy commented: "There was a bit of confusion over that, so that's good to hear."
In answer to a further question, Ms Greening said she expected that the scheme would be carried out between 2016 and 2018.
The scheme as it now stands covers two crucial sections. One is from Guide Bridge West Junction, just east of Manchester, via Huddersfield to Copley Hill East Junction, on the edge of the existing Leeds electrified area.
From the other side of Leeds, the wires would be installed from Neville West Junction to Colton Junction, which is south of York on the already-electrified East Coast Main Line.
Electrifying both these sections will provide a continuously electrified route from the Scottish central belt to Liverpool, via Newcastle, York, Leeds and Manchester.
But a new statement from the Department for Transport issued today says that more routes are also being examined as potential candidates for electrification.
The DfT said: 'We have given the go-ahead, subject to the business case being confirmed, to Network Rail to electrify the north-Trans Pennine route between Manchester and York via Leeds. This will enable both local and long distance passenger services, and freight trains using this route to be operated by electric trains once the work has been completed.
'We have asked Network Rail to look at the case for electrification between Leeds and Hull, York and Scarborough and Northallerton and Middlesbrough. We will use this information to inform a further announcement about schemes in July 2012.'