leeds station

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is to restart electrification work on the TransPennine and Midland Mainline (MML) railway lines.

Work to electrify these lines has been given approval after Network Rail (NR) chairman Sir Peter Hendy agreed on new plans with the DfT.

Both the projects were suspended in June, to review NR’s capital programme for the 2014-2019 funding period (Control Period 5) due to cost overruns on several major projects.

Hendy said: "The temporary pause in the programme has given us the space to develop a better plan for passengers.

"People can expect more services and faster journeys. We face some difficult challenges, and there is more work still to do, but the secretary of state’s decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify TransPennine and Midland Mainline."

"Connecting up the great cities of the north is at the heart of our plan to build a Northern Powerhouse."

NR will now work with the DfT and regional body Rail North to develop a new plan for electrification of the TransPennine route from Stalybridge near Manchester to Leeds, York and Selby.

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The previous plan only changed the power supply of the trains, while the new plan will deliver faster journey times and add more capacity between Manchester, Leeds and York.

Scheduled to be completed by 2022, the upgrade is expected to provide capacity for six fast or semi-fast trains an hour, and reduce the journey time between Manchester and York by 15min.

The entire route from Liverpool to Newcastle via Manchester, Leeds and York will be fully electrified.

Electrification work on the Midland Mainline from Bedford to Kettering and Corby is expected to be completed by 2019.

The railway line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield could be electrified in stages by 2023.

The DfT will announce the new Northern and TransPennine rail franchise awards before the end of the year.

The franchises will be responsible for delivering new train carriages and removing out-dated Pacer trains, introducing free Wi-Fi on trains, and increasing capacity with 200 additional services on weekdays and Saturdays and 300 more train services on Sundays.

UK Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said: "As a one-nation government, we are making sure every part of the UK benefits from a growing economy. Connecting up the great cities of the north is at the heart of our plan to build a Northern Powerhouse.

"This government will see the job through and build a better, faster and more reliable railway for passengers in the north and the Midlands."

According to the earlier plan, the TransPennine electrification was due to be completed by 2020, while on the MML, up to to Nottingham by 2019 and Sheffield by 2020.

Hendy noted that by pushing the completion of these projects back, the government will be able to allocate funding from NR’s budget for 2019-2024 (CP6), enabling CP5 funds to be directed to other projects such as the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

Image: Leeds railway station. Photo: courtesy of the UK Government.