HS2

13.09.18

TransPennine upgrade works will shut down route for almost five years

To achieve the improvements envisaged through the TransPennine upgrade, Network Rail will have to close some part of the route for up to a whopping 39 weeks per year for five years – in other words, closures of almost 50 months in total throughout the scheme.

In a letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling, Network Rail’s managing director of the London North Western & East Midlands route Rob McIntosh said that the large-scale disruption will extend journey times by up to 25 minutes and constrain capacity in the region.

This is because the level of ambition in the £3bn programme “cannot be delivered without significant disruption during the course of the works,” he argued.

“The TransPennine route is a Victorian construction that passes through the heart of the Pennines, with its inherently challenging topography. It includes many tunnels and bridges and access will be limited and difficult,” explained McIntosh.

“Delivery of investment on congested infrastructure with limited diversionary capability will be very disruptive for passengers and local communities. We have developed a construction methodology and blockade strategy that seeks to minimise that disruption while delivering optimum value as soon as is practical.”

As part of the project’s business case, Network Rail intends to implement a cyclical blockade strategy designed to keep disruption to a minimum around key seasonal economies such as tourism, university terms and Christmas markets.

Its access strategy is centred around keeping communities and economies connected by diverting services via other routes, such as the Calder Valley or Healey Mills. “In practice, to achieve the improvements we are seeking, we will need to close some part of this route for up to 39 weeks per year between 2020 and 2024,” said McIntosh.

The route boss said the infrastructure team considered ways in which this could be delivered in a shorter timescale, with fewer yet longer blockades. But they concluded that this will “increase costs and lead to levels of disruption that stakeholders would find unacceptable and are potentially damaging to the local economy.”

More work will bring extra risks

Worse yet, further improvements that could be made during CP6 should extra funds become available – perhaps through Network Rail’s Open for Business programme, which seeks to incentivise private financing and third-party contributions – might not be able to go ahead.

“We believe that to attempt to deliver more work would add additional risks to the programme, significantly challenge the supply chain, and become unbearable for passengers,” wrote McIntosh.

This could potentially wreak havoc on the region: Leeds and Manchester would lose their direct rail connection for a number of months; Huddersfield would lose connectivity to both Leeds and Manchester for several months; and communities such as Raventhorpe, Mirfield, Batley and Marsden would be “hugely affected” as many rail services would require bus replacements.

The freight industry would also take a hit, with valuable TransPennine traffic such as the biomass from the docks of Liverpool to the power stations of South Yorkshire being affected.

“Consulting with all stakeholders in the region, we shall work through the detail of these plans to understand better their implications,” the route MD told Grayling. “We hope you recognise that in developing our proposals we have worked hard to find the right balance between delivering a transformational series of interventions for the north and minimising disruption to the communities and economies along the TransPennine route.”

Attached to his letter was a document containing Network Rail’s intended programme scope, although this was not made available to the media. More details will be revealed when the business case is published.

Reacting to the letter, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald MP told Sky News that he was “greatly shocked that the offer that’s going to now be made is this massive disruption.” He added: “Closing lines for 39 weeks out of 52… After all the trouble that people in the north of England have suffered, this is the response.”

The TransPennine route upgrade will be one of the key programmes in the next control period, with Grayling recently confirming that it will include electrification as expected.

Works are expected to begin in spring 2019 and will be delivered by an alliance between Amey, BAM Nuttall and Arup.

(Top image c. NurPhoto, PA Images)

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Northern reaches milestone in new train introduction

19/02/2020Northern reaches milestone in new train introduction

Following a £500m investment in rail in the north of England, this week nine new trains were integrated into Arriva Rail North’s flee... more >
Alstom to take over Bombardier

18/02/2020Alstom to take over Bombardier

Alstom, French multinational company who operate worldwide in rail transport markets, are set to take over Canadian train producer Bombardier. ... more >
£400k project expands car parks for Spital station

17/02/2020£400k project expands car parks for Spital station

Increased parking at Spital station, Wirral, is set to benefit rail users alongside the opening of an extension to the current Park and Ride faci... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

14/11/2019Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

Rail Technology Magazine’s Matt Roberts explains the significant role data can play within the future development of the rail industry. Standing as a cornerstone of the UK transport network, the rail industry is forever striving to innovate and maximise efficiency in all aspects of its work. Data is just one such way of achievi... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >
Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

02/07/2019Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

Smart electrification is the way to boost clean energy resources, argues Leo Murray, director at 10:10 Climate Action. Contractors are clear... more >
Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

02/07/2019Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

The TCR Midlands conference is only days away and tickets are going fast for the sector event of the year at the Vox Conference Centre in Birming... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he wo... more >