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TransPennine electrification ‘unlikely’ to hit 2018 completion date

TransPennine electrification is “unlikely to be deliverable” by the original 2018 completion date, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has confirmed.

Evidence has been mounting in recent months that TransPennine electrification is slipping into CP6, with the most recent update on Network Rail’s major projects putting the estimated delivery completion date for the Yorkshire elements of the Northern Programme at July 2020.

The CP5 enhancements delivery plan, updated in September 2014, said the interventions under the programme would be completed “for the December 2018 timetable change”, but that no longer seems as if it will happen. The ‘eastern’ elements of TransPennine electrification provide for electric traction for a) Stalybridge to Leeds b) Leeds to York and c) Leeds to Selby, while the ‘western’ elements of TransPennine electrification were folded into the wider North of England Programme. That programme lists a GRIP 6 completion date for Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge Junction electrification as December 2016.

The ORR’s recent decision letter on an open access application by Great North Western Railway Company (GNWR) to run trains between London and Blackpool, and between London and Leeds, also sets out up-to-date thinking on infrastructure projects.

The letter says “The original 2018 completion date for electrification works is now unlikely to be deliverable and there are uncertainties around the scope, timing and costs of the project still to be resolved…Network Rail confirmed there were issues with the deliverability of the project that would be clarified over the next 12 weeks.”

It also refers to “expanded TransPennine investments” being considered by the Department for Transport and Network Rail, which currently have a benefit cost ratio of 2.12. A potential reduction in this value-for-money calculation was one of the key reasons that the ORR rejected GNWR’s open access application.

GNWR was aware of the potential delays in electrification that could affect its own proposals, and even had “contingency plans involving diesel-hauling its electric trains and could delay the start of those services if necessary”.

The original scope of North Trans-Pennine Electrification (East) includes the following, according to Network Rail’s CP5 enhancements deliver plan:

25kV AC overhead electrification (OLE) and associated power supplies and distribution for the following routes, including all running lines and crossovers:

  • Stalybridge National Grid Feeder Station (excl.) to Copley Hill East Junction;
  • Neville Hill West Junction to Colton Junction;
  • Micklefield Junction to Selby Station;
  • Hambleton East Junction to Hambleton North Junction; and
  • Hambleton South Junction to Hambleton West Junction.

Other works will include signalling immunisation, track lowering and bridge reconstructions on the above routes to facilitate the introduction of the electrified lines.

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