Latest Rail News

11.08.15

North west electrification timetables being re-examined

Network Rail says it will do everything it can to deliver Manchester to Preston electrification by its December 2016 target, but all programmes are being re-examined at the moment. 

Northern Rail and Network Rail are working to “review both the existing and future electrification programmes”, according to Northern’s boss Alex Hynes. 

During a site visit to Farnworth Tunnel on 11 August – whose reconstruction is a major stepping stone to the electrification of the line – Nick Spall, Network Rail’s LNW route delivery director told RTM: “We are having a look at all the programmes.” 

He said recent announcements including the ‘pause’ of TransPennine and Midland Mainline electrification have “given us an opportunity to look at our supply chain and see how we have got the work organised”.

Spall told RTM: “The aim is certainly – this part of the line – by December 2016, but until we’ve finished all our work I wouldn’t like to 100% commit to that. But we know that is an important milestone, and we are doing all we can to get there safely and efficiently.” 

Work to enlarge the 270m-long tunnel at Farnworth, which involves re-drilling the existing tunnel, is well underway and slightly ahead of schedule. 

Northern Rail director Alex Hynes was also at the event, and spoke to RTM. He said he was “really impressed” by the ambition of the project.

Northern started running its first Class 319 electric services between Liverpool and Manchester Airport in March. The TOC had originally planned to introduce them from December 2014, but overruns on the electrification of the line forced a delay. 

Discussing this, Hynes said he felt that some of the challenges have now been “overcome”. 

He added that next year the Manchester to Preston line will be electrified, and the plan should be to operate electric trains from December 2016. 

“But with the current uncertainty around the Budget and the programme for these electrification projects, we are working with Network Rail to find the best solution for our customers,” said Hynes. 

“My planning and programmes director, Rob Warnes, is spending a lot of time currently with Network Rail to review both the existing and future electrification programmes, so we end up with the best outcome.”

(Image: Network Rail's original north west electrification map)

Comments

Geoff Kerr   16/08/2015 at 21:50

Let's hope "re-examined" isn't a euphemism for "delayed". What is the progress with Preston - Blackpool, Bolton - Wigan and Manchester Vic - Stalybridge?

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