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Major works on North of England Programme delayed

Major works on Network Rail’s North of England Programme will not be complete in time for the December 2016 timetable change, with December 2017 now the likely date, according to new documents seen by RTM. 

In the Draft May 2016 Calendar of Events, the expected timetable implementation date on the North of England Programme ‘configuration state 5’ has been delayed by a year. 

The programme incorporates the outputs from the Northern Hub, North West Electrification and North Trans-Pennine Electrification West (from Manchester to Stalybridge) projects on the LNW (London North Western) Route. 

Configuration state 5 works include the Ordsall Chord, for which permissions were belatedly granted yesterday, as well as the Huyton-Roby fourth track, Rochdale capacity works, Calder Valley journey time improvements (JTI), Preston journey time improvements, the Manchester Airport fourth platform and the Manchester Victoria infrastructure works, electrification Preston-Blackpool North, Ordsall Lane-Euxton Junction, and Manchester Victoria-Stalybridge. 

In Network Rail’s CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan update this month, it was noted that Phase 3 - Preston to Blackpool Electrification missed its GRIP 3 completion milestone. But revised dates for this regulated milestone will be published in the June 2015 update. 

This is also the case for Phase 4 – Manchester to Preston Electrification and Preston JTI; and Phase 5 – Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge Junction Electrification and JTI. 

An update to Network Rail’s Delivery Plan for Control Period 5, issued on Wednesday (25 March), says: “Our programme for the five year CP5 period includes some 5,000 projects and, in some cases, our plans are evolving to reflect delivery challenges as well as the strong growth in passenger and train numbers that we continue to see. We are currently updating our Delivery Plan in response to the delivery challenges and opportunities presented by the strong growth and the needs of passengers, freight users and the wider economy. We will be providing a further update on those plans in the summer based on safe and sustainable delivery to meet the interests of customers and funders.” 

RTM has asked Network Rail for a comment on the changes, but at the time of publication had not received a reply.

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


Transtraxman   27/03/2015 at 10:58

Strange it is that this news only comes out after the vote seeking headlines about all the investment in rail in the North of England to be made priorities and brought forward as soon as possible. Now timetables on existing projects are put back so that any other project will be pushed further into the future or even forgotten about. Will we ever get in the North of England the basic infrasructure improvements needed for generations(without thinking about "pie in the sky" projects like HS3)? I will believe it when I see it.

Stephen Waring   27/03/2015 at 12:34

To be honest this is no surprise. It is consistent with the timetable change dates in the TSRs for the Northern and TPE franchises which were published a month ago.

Stpaddy   27/03/2015 at 14:38

There should be 10 times more angry noise about these electrification delays than about Network Rail's Xmas issues at Finsbury Park. It is a huge problem. Electrification is key to the future of our railways and will lead to faster, more frequent services and resolve the critical shortage of acceptable rolling stock, so the rate of electrification needs to increase sharply. What needs to be done? Network rail clearly need a step change in resource for these projects. To help achieve that NR need improved strategic planning over longer timescales- CP5 was only finalised just before it started, so that detailed plans and budgets for major component schemes (such as Trans Pennine Electrification) are still up in the air - this is madness, planning for this huge, complex industry should be on a longer cycle. There also needs to be a commitment to a national rolling electrification plan, incorporating the recent Northern Electrification Task Force proposals and also including obvious candidates such as Newbury-Plymouth, Derby-Bristol, Ipswich- Birmingham, Snow Hill and Chiltern lines. There's a lot to be done - and I believe much of this has a higher utility than HS2 which is going to hog a huge share of engineering resource.

Neil Palmer   27/03/2015 at 19:56

Well, I don't totally blame Network Rail. They can often build something in less time than it takes various levels of government (and politicians) to get through the interminable approvals process. That's why everything costs more when it is EVENTUALLY approved.

Nickk   29/03/2015 at 11:16

When will this country realise that we're already running low on electricity? Nuclear and coal power stations are being decommissioned, and the likelihood of winter power cuts grows each year. HS2 has told me they will have a guaranteed power supply from National Grid. I'm sure everyone will be thrilled that almost-empty trains can hurtle up and down the country when our lights are out!

John Gilbert   29/03/2015 at 17:05

But this adds ONE WHOLE YEAR on to the forecast introduction of electric trains, even clapped-out southeast England cast-offs. Obviously insufficient men are being employed on these projects or this kind of slippage simply wouldn't happen. It needn't be happening given sufficient drive and energy. Regrettably typical of the UK. and its attitude..

AE   30/03/2015 at 13:43

Nickk, It's more than 10 years until the first HS2 train runs. How do you know that there will not be enough electricity to run them? How do you know that the trains will be almost empty? Sounds to me as if your a simple minded anti-HS2 troll.

Hazel Kelly   16/04/2015 at 19:59

i live right behind the rail and if you all had the view from your kitchen window a massive electric stanchon you wouldnt be happy total waste of government money could have been spent else where instead of ruining lovely landscape we used to have

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