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WYCA presses for quick ECML upgrades to create HS2 and NPR capacity

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) will need to be upgraded to cope with the increased pressure on infrastructure after it joins onto HS2, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has said during a board meeting.

Under plans for HS2’s phase 2 route, which were unveiled last month, HS2 services will join the ECML to serve York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

A board paper published ahead of WYCA’s transport committee meeting on 9 December argued that these plans present “a great opportunity” for HS2 to be integrated with HS2, but will also provide “a challenge” for capacity on the ECML.

To address this, the WYCA was asked to support a series of improvements on the ECML. In the short term, these include delivering the Hendy Review upgrades on time or even ahead of schedule.

“In addition to HS2, Transport for the North is developing proposals for transformed connectivity between six of the north’s cities and Manchester Airport, known as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR),” the board paper explained.

“Included in this is the link between Leeds and Newcastle, which could be provided for through the upgrade of the ECML to create greater capacity for more frequent, faster, services, including HS2 services, alongside improved local services.

“Given that planning work is already underway by the rail industry to develop possible ECML upgrade solutions, and the recent HS2 Phase 2b route decision, it seems a logical step to press for ECML upgrade works to create the required capacity as an early intervention in creating the NPR network.”

From 2019, it recommended £3bn of investment in upgrading the ECML to improve capacity, journey times and resilience in order to prepare the ECML for HS2 and NPR. It also said that other routes that connect with the ECML would require investment.

The combined authority will also respond to the East Coast Route Study, which will open for consultation next year and is due to address areas such as higher uniform speeds, removing bottlenecks and introducing digital railway.

WYCA said that its response would include suggestions for planning for a “post-HS2 era” but, in the longer term, it recommended capacity and connectivity in preparation for this era.

(Image c. Ingy the Wingy)

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Lutz   13/12/2016 at 13:03

Calls for additional funding in association with HS2 have been anticipated all along. For now, it would probably be more discrete to postpone the HS2 branch to Leeds and concentrate effort and the limited resources on delivering HS2 to Manchester and in provide the full integration with local services. That way we may keep the project within budget and aligned with available resources.

Graham Nalty   13/12/2016 at 15:03

Surely it would be better to get HS2 right, with city centre stations at Sheffield and Stoke on Trent first. But it would be even more sensible to develop Northern Powerhouse rail linking the cities of the north first and the plan HS2 in a way that serves the northern economy. Let the people of Sheffield decide the location of the HS2 station for South Yorkshire, and definitely not HS2 Ltd who appear to be planning the line to give the maximum benefit to London at the expense of connectivity between the Northern cities.

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