A TASK FORCE has set out its priorities for more electrification in the north of England, and has presented its findings to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin during a visit to Sheffield.
He had established the Northern Electrification Task Force to advise the government on the priorities for future rail electrification in the north. It consists of local MPs, council leaders representing Rail North, and officials from the Department for Transport and Network Rail.
It has named 32 lines, 12 of which are in the highest priority 'Tier 1'. They are Calder Valley, Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington Central, Southport/Kirkby to Salford Crescent, Chester to Stockport, Northallerton to Middlesbrough, Leeds to York via Harrogate, Selby to Hull, Sheffield Meadowhall to Leeds via Barnsley/Castleford, Bolton to Clitheroe, Sheffield to Doncaster/Wakefield Westgate, Hazel Grove to Buxton and Warrington to Chester.
MP Andrew Jones chaired the Task Force. He said: “It is a comprehensive report detailing where we think the priorities lie for rail electrification in the north. We have placed economic growth at the heart of this project and been working on the premise that all the lines of the north would be electrified, it is only a question of when. This report details where it should start.
“The work has been a real team effort. The Taskforce has brought together different political parties, different regions of the north and different tiers of government. It is a report from the north for the north."
Welcoming the report, the transport secretary said: "Between 2014 and 2019 more than £38 billion is being spent to improve and maintain our national rail network as part of the government’s long term economic plan. Electrification of the railways is a key part of that investment programme, with work underway across the north, the Midlands, and into south Wales. The electrification programme is central to our ambitious plans to transform the rail network across the country. It will enable the modern fleet of electric trains to run on the network, providing faster and more reliable journeys.
"I am grateful to the members of the task force for their work. I want to see a rolling plan for further electrification and this study will have a vital part to play in setting the agenda for 2019 and beyond. Network Rail will take the task force’s findings into account as it develops its nationwide plan to improve the nation’s railways."
The DfT said the task force’s recommendations will now be considered by the government 'as part of the development of a comprehensive transport strategy for the north of England'. An interim report on the north of England transport strategy is due shortly, while in a related development Network Rail is expected to publish its updated electrification RUS by the end of the month.