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Government announces £3bn upgrades to TransPennine route

A £3bn programme of upgrades to the TransPennine route is expected to begin in spring 2019, Chris Grayling has announced.

Speaking at the Transport for the Northern Powerhouse conference in Leeds last Friday, the transport secretary said that the project would deliver significantly better journeys for passengers and drive forward economic growth in the region.

Grayling told the conference: “I want to realise passenger benefits from the £3bn we have ring-fenced for the Pennine route as fast as possible.

“Network Rail has already begun detailed designs, and provided us with options for the TransPennine Route Upgrade to meet the objectives we’ve set out - for journey times, capacity and reliability.

“That – in turn – has given us an opportunity to undertake the work in phases starting as soon as spring next year.

“This is not just about meeting rising demand for train travel. It’s about transforming journeys too.”

Grayling added that he plans to work with local authorities along the TransPennine route to discuss how the benefits of the £3bn investment can be maximised, such as the creation of new stations to increase access to the railway and housing development opportunities.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, welcomed the plans for improvements to the route: “We look forward to seeing more detail of the proposals for this upgrade and hope they deliver on our ambitions for all rail services and customers using this transport link, which is vitally important to the Leeds City Region economy,” she commented.

“Ensuring the benefits of upgrading the TransPennine route are maximised is a critical step towards the longer term plans for strengthening existing transport corridors all across the north and building new ones as outlined in Transport for the North’s plan.”

Top image: Owen Humphreys PA Archive

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John Webster   05/03/2018 at 12:20

£3bn upgrade eh! Does that mean he is back-tracking on his cancellation of electrification of the route - or is he just posturing! Words flow easy when there is no detail!

Pwt   05/03/2018 at 13:01

Three billion pounds for what exactly? So many vague words but no actual detail from Grayling as usual. I suspect that a brand new double track electrified railway could be built for that amount.

Geoff Kerr   05/03/2018 at 14:20

Maybe reopening the Micklehurst loop and quadrupling Diggle - Huddersfield - Thornhill, plus electrification Stalybridge to York. What would that cost?

J, Leicester   05/03/2018 at 14:45

Note that he's managed to espouse vagaries on what the "upgrade" will actually entail, most likely because this does not mean that electrification cancellation will be reversed. Grayling is the government's biggest snake oil merchant going. The majority of these "new measures" like the digital signalling project were already agreed and in the public domain in any sense, and I'll believe station reopening suggestions when I actually see people catching trains from their platforms.

Mjdc500   05/03/2018 at 14:50

It's worth clarifying that the TPE route electrification was never "officially" cancelled in the same way the MML and Swansea line electrification schemes were. TPE was just cast under serious doubt. I suspect the £3bn will be spread among these many possibilities he's listed and won't necessarily include electrification. Though, in my opinion, this would be sheer insanity. Adding more stations only increases the need for faster-accelerating trains, hence, electrification!

Lutz   05/03/2018 at 16:42

Until TfN arrives at a solid set of proposals for the region, it is a bit premature to be allocating funds. NR still in the optioneering phase on the TPU as far as I am aware, so even that is not sufficiently advanced to commit funding. Should not be hearing commitments until the final CP6 submissions to ORR have been assessed against available funds.

Simon   05/03/2018 at 18:18

Mr Grayling, stop wasting our time with pointless rhetoric. Authorise Network Rail to electrify the whole route and give us details of when it will be complete.

James Miller   05/03/2018 at 18:47

Some of the TransPennine routes have slow speed limits, like Chat Moss which is only 75 mph. Surely, one of the first things to do is sort these limits out, so that the new trains can take advantage. Network Rail and their contractors have managed to squeeze a lot more speed out of the MML, so they probably know what to do on TransPennine routes. They've already given the green light for a plan for Hope Valley and Grayling has talked about connecting Skipton and Colne. Selective electrification like Leeds to York could also give a good boost.

Nigel   05/03/2018 at 19:28

He can suggest this investment, yet the only route to the South West regularly gets washed away and is vulnerable to high tides, but no such investment is forthcoming. An inland route is essential, but the South West has no political clout.

Trukka Dave   05/03/2018 at 21:36

Who cares,we got lovely trains down south !!

Ian Northallerton   05/03/2018 at 22:45

What happened about re-instating the route from Northallerton to Harrogate which would then connect to Leeds.

Duck   05/03/2018 at 23:03

Pity GrayfailING and the DFT didn't think about that before they sold the old FIRST KEOLIS TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS DOWN THE SWANEE BY BREAKING IT UP AND UTTING IT UNDER THE northern franchise once a pillock always a PILLOCK

Keitht   05/03/2018 at 23:28

£3billion? It is derisory, a pittance. £250 billion is being spent on the SE.

Gareth   05/03/2018 at 23:39

What annoys me is London get £14.2Bn on Crossrail to give commuters another option. But will only Spend £3Bn on the single most important transpennine route in the country which can have a huge economic benefit not just to the cities on the route but the entire UK.

Brenton Blandford   06/03/2018 at 01:14

How about having the alternative route for the Plymouth to Exeter route when yet again the Dawlish being damaged by the seas and high tide the trains have been unable to get through. Suggest either Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton or Exeter to Plymouth via Heathfield. BOther would require upgrades and apart from loss of passengers business is getting frustratedvat lack of govt action when we desperately need the alternative rail link from Eexterior to Penzance. So come on Mr Grayling and the mandarins at DfT invest in the South west peninsula so that we can have a decent rail service. Thank you.

Nadinehardman   06/03/2018 at 01:36

We do need more trains and lines to be done and but 3billion is a horrific amount of money to be spent and that should be spent bringing benefit levels upto a normal living wage

Andrew Gwilt   06/03/2018 at 02:25

As long he’s got money to use it on such as railway improvements, extra trains, HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse in the North of England. As the North is struggling than the South of England. As we Brits say it’s a #NorthSouthdivide. Including Wales, Scotland and Eastern England.

David Wilkinson   06/03/2018 at 10:00

As usual no details just a load of bluster.Seems to me these upgrades are getting pushed back all the time.

Noam Bleicher   06/03/2018 at 10:10

Gareth - £14 bn was spent on Crossrail because that's how much it costs to tunnel under a major European city. For £3 bn you can achieve loads on Transpennine because much of it is above ground. My educated guess is you could electrify for about £1 bn, by doing it traditionally not like the GWML fiasco, and still have £2 bn left over for linespeed improvements, new stations, dynamic passing loops etc.

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