Ambition for full Trans-Pennine electrification

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Infrastructure upgrade funded: loco No 68026 leads a TransPennine Express Nova 3 set into Huddersfield with a Scarborough to Liverpool Lime Street service on 30 August 2019.

The Government has released £589 million of funding to begin work on upgrading the Trans-Pennine line between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester. It is also to establish a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council, dedicated to accelerating vital infrastructure projects and better connecting communities across the North’s towns and cities.

According to Government, the most congestion section of the Leeds to Manchester route will be doubled from two to four tracks. Most of the line will be electrified, but there are ambitions for full electrification, digital signalling, more multi-tracking and improved freight capacity. These will be considered as part of an Integrated Rail Plan, designed to set out the best phasing sequence for the upgrade along with HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and schemes in the Midlands.

The Northern Transport Acceleration Council will hold its first meeting in September and will be made up of mayors and council leaders, chaired by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Stakeholders have been critical of the lack of ambition with the Trans-Pennine scheme, with strong calls for full electrification and additional freight capacity. The Rail Freight Group welcomed the announcement but called for freight enhancements to deliver capacity and gauge clearance to be accelerated to ensure they can be delivered as part of the already committed scheme.