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Council leaders criticise lack of clarity over TransPennine upgrade plans

Delays to the TransPennine electrification and route upgrade risk leaving the region with a “sub-optimal” service, and there are concerns about the current programme, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has warned.

In papers put before the GMCA before tomorrow’s board meeting, the authority says that while it welcomes the ‘unpausing’ of the TransPennine Upgrade Programme following Sir Peter Hendy’s review, it remains concerned that completion of the programme is now delayed until 2022.

The GMCA also said that there are no firm dates for some stages of the project, which could create problems with planning integrated infrastructure schemes and procurement of rolling stock, including causing delays to the promised new Arriva trains on the northern line.

Put together by Cllr Richard Leese, GMCA portfolio lead for rail, and Jon Lamonte, portfolio lead chief executive for Transport , the report adds that it is imperative the TransPennine upgrade scheme be delivered promptly.

“At the very least the target should be for the original scheduled delivery date without the project being reduced in scope in any way,” they say. “Delay of this scheme will leave a sub-optimal service solution for local journeys, with the correct matching of supply to different types of demand unable to be met.”

The report adds that Sir Peter Hendy’s review “contains ambiguous language and non-specific targets”.  GMCA also criticises the review for a lack of transparency around its methodology, meaning that there is a lack of visible scrutiny and mitigation of risks.

They also say that the highest priority projects for Greater Manchester railways are maintaining the committed delivery date for the Orsdall Chord development or even bringing it forward, as well as redeveloping Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations.

GMCA are also developing a rail industry plan, which they aim to have ready by September 2016.

(Image: Manchester Piccadilly, c. Dave Thompson from PA Images)





Chris M   01/05/2016 at 02:55

It's vague because the scope of the works has been thrown up in the air by the Northern Powerhouse political development and the slow rate of electrification progress elsewhere. The original idea was to just electrify what was already there, locking in speed restrictions and obsolete track formations. Now they have to figure out the scale of enhancements necessary to bring the Leeds - Manchester time down to 40 minutes, Ideally they need to know the NPR plan in fine detail to decide what is worth doing and what isn't. But no firm decisions on any NPR routes or infrastructure seem to have been taken yet.

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