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Grayling confirms electrification will form part of TransPennine upgrade

The transport secretary has confirmed to the UK rail supply sector that the TransPennine route upgrade will include both major civil engineering projects and electrification as part of its future plans.

The future of TransPennine infrastructure improvements has been in the public eye: in July last year it was feared that plans to electrify the route was in doubt after Grayling pulled the plug on three other schemes. This was compounded in September when TfGM pledged that they would fight its corner in campaigning for the full electrification of the route.

More recently, since the government’s announcement of upgrades worth £3bn to the TransPennine route in March, Grayling came under fire earlier this month after further claims that the electrification plans could be scrapped and that urgent clarity was needed.

But now, in a letter to the Railway Industry Association (RIA), Grayling has finally confirmed that the TransPennine upgrade will be a “rolling programme of enhancements,” including both major civil engineering projects and electrification.

He wrote: “The key to delivering improved journey times on what is a very circuitous route through the Pennines involves rebuilding and relaying most of the track bed from Manchester to York.

“We are awaiting Network Rail’s final project plan, but we have instructed them to prioritise those elements which bring the quickest passenger benefits. This will include things like straightening lengths of track to improve line speed.”

The transport secretary went on to say that the major investment accounts for a massive one-third of anticipated expenditure for rail enhancements nationwide for CP6 – reportedly the biggest investment in a single project – adding that the modernisation plan will provide passengers along the route with new trains, longer carriages, more seats and greater comfort.

In response, Darren Caplan, chief executive of the RIA said: “I welcome transport secretary Chris Grayling’s confirmation that both civil engineering and electrification will play key parts in the TransPennine Route Upgrade, giving rail suppliers some certainty about the scheme in the years ahead.

“The industry now looks forward to delivering on the TransPennine Route Upgrade, working with the DfT and Network Rail. We will soon be publishing our Electrification Cost Challenge report, which examines how the cost of electrification schemes can be reduced significantly – and we hope these learnings will help inform the Trans Pennine works in order to provide cost effective electrification to the North.”

Network Rail is currently working with the DfT and Transport for the North to determine the best way to roll out the improvements for passengers. The final project plan is due later this year, ahead of the start of works in the spring.

The TransPennine route upgrade will be discussed extensively at TransCityRail North, which will take place on 4 October this year. Don't miss your chance to attend: visit the event website.

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