UK: The Department for Transport is to establish a joint taskforce with infrastructure manager Network Rail to study options for further electrification in northern England.

Announcing the plan on December 13, DfT said the taskforce would work with train operators, local authorities including the Rail North consortium, the supply industry and local Members of Parliament to produce an interim report within 12 months setting out how the schemes can be progressed.

The routes to be examined will include:

  • Leeds - Harrogate - York;
  • Selby - Hull;
  • Sheffield - Leeds;
  • Sheffield - Doncaster;
  • East Coast Main Line - Middlesbrough;
  • Sheffield - Manchester;
  • Warrington - Chester;
  • Crewe - Chester;

The formation of the taskforce was welcomed by Councillor James Lewis, Chairman of West Yorkshire transport authority Metro. 'Metro recently proposed a £94m project to electrify the route between Leeds, Harrogate and York in partnership with North Yorkshire, Harrogate and York councils', he said. 'This would see journey times between Leeds and Harrogate reduced to less than 30 min, cut 15 min from end-to-end journeys between Leeds and York and mean an improved frequency of four trains per hour between Leeds, Horsforth and Harrogate, with two trains per hour extending to Knaresborough and York, using modern, electric trains.'

He added that he 'would like to see the Calder Valley line linking Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Rochdale, Blackpool and Manchester included on the list'.

  • A series of transport investment projects approved on December 13 includes infill electrification between Wigan North Western and Lostock Junction near Bolton by 2017 at cost of £37m. DfT said this would enable services from Wigan to Manchester Victoria and Manchester Airport to be switched 'from older Pacer diesel trains to more modern and higher capacity electric trains'.

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