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Task force submits northern electrification priorities to DfT

Twelve rail lines across the north of England have been given the highest priority for electrification in a report submitted to Patrick McLoughlin.

The Calder Valley, Leeds to York via Harrogate, and Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington Central lines were among those listed as ‘tier one’ priorities.

The report has been produced by the Northern Electrification Task Force, set up by the transport secretary to advise the government on which areas it should focus its investment. 

Thirty-two routes were examined, and grouped into three prioritisation tiers based on their ability to contribute to local economic plans, how they fit with other schemes, and the number of diesel kilometres of running they would replace.

The report focuses on prioritising a rolling programme rather than trying to justify each scheme. The task force said that while many of the routes might not be national priorities, the need to replace much of the current DMU fleet within 10 years and the political desire for a “Northern Powerhouse” strengthens the case for electrifying the north.

The 12 routes included in tier one – the top priority for investment – should be included in the work programme for CP6, the taskforce said. The routes are:

  • Calder Valley (Full)
  • 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 & connections
  • Bolton to Clitheroe
  • Sheffield to Doncaster/Wakefield Westgate (Dearne Valley)
  • Hazel Grove to Buxton
  • Warrington to Chester

Taskforce chair Andrew Jones MP 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.”

The eight routes classified as tier two are:

  • Manchester to Sheffield and south-east Manchester local services
  • York to Scarborough
  • Bishop Auckland/Darlington to Saltburn and Sunderland
  • Barnsley to Huddersfield
  • Sheffield to Lincoln via Retford
  • Chester to Crewe
  • Burnley to Colne &Kirkham to Blackpool South
  • Knottingley to Goole

And the 12 routes included in the lower-priority tier three are:

  • Barrow to Canforth
  • Pontefract to Church Fenton
  • Hull to Scarborough
  • Ormskirk to Preston
  • Carlisle to Newcastle
  • Skipton to Carlisle
  • Barton on Humber
  • Cumbrian Coast
  • Doncaster to Gilberdyke
  • Cleethorpes to Thorne (Doncaster)
  • Middlesbrough to Whitby
  • Skipton to Heysham

The taskforce says that all the routes in the report should be electrified, but work should begin with tier one to provide a “core foundation” for the remaining tiers.

McLoughlin travelled to Sheffield yesterday to receive the report. He said: “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 taskforce 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 task force’s recommendations will be considered by the government as part of the development of a transport strategy for the north of England. The DfT said that an interim report on the strategy is due shortly.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Barryj   06/03/2015 at 13:55

Sunderland (in tier 2) could be interesting - mixing 25kV on the main line with 1500V on the Metro will be a challenge!

James Doyle   06/03/2015 at 14:20

Re: Sunderland - Not too difficult - since motive power units already do this between Lille and Amsterdam, with the 3000V Belgian section included. However, no such units appear to be available for the British loading gauge as yet!

Joe   07/03/2015 at 09:58

Why is Knottingley to Goole in tier 2, it only gets a limited service.

Geordie   08/03/2015 at 12:15

Carlisle to Newcastle should be a priority. Straight as a die for 50 miles, it would bring massive benefits to Cumbria and Northumberland. The North doesn't just mean Leeds and Manchester, believe it or not!

Ian   09/03/2015 at 09:58

Why is Manchester to Sheffield in Tier 2? Is this not supposed to be the 'backbone' for HS3? Any ideas what the target timeframes for the 3 tiers are, assuming all were to be eventually implementd?

RTM   09/03/2015 at 10:03

Hi Ian, you can read the full report here, which answers those questions:

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