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Government admits ‘uncertainty’ over TransPennine electrification

Today’s Invitation to Tender for the TransPennine Express franchise admits that there is “uncertainty about the timing and outputs” of the TransPennine electrification and associated capacity and line speed upgrades.

The Department for Transport originally announced the scheme in November 2011, but unclarity over timing and costs remains, while Network Rail says that “development of all Northern Programme Yorkshire schemes [which includes TransPennine electrification] remains on hold pending confirmation of scope with the DfT”.

This follows the submission to the DfT of the results of a 12-week study into journey time, capacity and performance improvements, which was handed over on 30 January but has not been made public.

In its November 2014 major projects update, Network Rail’s estimated delivery completion date for the programme was July 2020 – but the newest version of the document has dropped this entirely, saying that the date is “to be announced”. The anticipated final cost of the entire Northern Programme Yorkshire remains £440m.

Today’s ITT notes: “During the franchise term, it is envisaged that the electrification of the north TransPennine route will be undertaken along with a number of other changes to infrastructure capability, on the north TransPennine route and elsewhere, including increases in capacity and line speed (‘Future Enhancements’), over and above those assumed for December 2017.

“However, the nature of planning timescales means that there is currently uncertainty about the timing and outputs of these changes. Therefore, in order to ensure consistency of bid responses, Bidders are required to bid on the basis (for bid purposes only) that the Future Enhancements do not occur during the Core Franchise Term and the Extension Period, with mechanisms in the Franchise Agreement to deal with the implications when the timing and outputs of the Future Enhancements are known.”

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has already confirmed that TransPennine electrification is “unlikely to be deliverable” by the original 2018 completion date.

The ITT also says: “For the purpose of identifying the maximum size of [diesel] fleet that might become surplus, Bidders are to assume that the only requirements in the TSR (train service requirements) that cannot be operated with electric traction would be for services operating on the south TransPennine route between Manchester Airport, Sheffield and Cleethorpes, though depending on future circumstances additional diesel stock may need to be retained for operation of passenger services on routes which are not electrified (e.g. for services to Hull, Middlesbrough and/or Scarborough).”


Lutz   27/02/2015 at 17:48

It would seem that NR, as a public-sector entity, is not up to the job; I would suggest that all new project work be taken from NR and put out to tender to those that can, leaving NR with the operations and maintenance only - provided it is up to it.

Lutz   27/02/2015 at 17:50

P.S. You may want to adjust the time-out on the comment submission to allow time to both read the article and write a comment :)

John Gilbert   06/03/2015 at 11:24

The word uncertainty is used. But does this mean uncertainty as to whether the electrification will be done AT ALL, or does it mean that it will be done more slowly? There is a big difference!!

RTM   06/03/2015 at 11:27

Hi John, we tried to be clear in the opening paragraph - "“uncertainty about the timing and outputs”

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