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A total of £401m in funding for the next stage of the Transpennine Route Upgrade, remodelling at Oxford and three new stations was confirmed by the government on May 26.
Transpennine Route UpgradeThe announcement was led with confirmation of a further £317m for development of Network Rail’s Transpennine Route Upgrade programme to modernise the corridor between Leeds, Manchester and York.
In July last year the government announced £589m for the first stage of programme, which allowed NR to award contracts for the next phase of design activity and some early construction enabling work to support partial electrification at 25 kV 50 Hz, an additional through platform at Huddersfield and 13 km of four-tracking.
The latest funding will enable the completion of enhancements and electrification between York and Church Fenton, and support further development of the wider programme. This will include design work on line speed improvements, electrification of the Manchester –Stalybridge, Huddersfield – Leeds and Church Fenton – York sections of the route, and station works.
An update to the programme’s business case is to be completed this summer. This will consider full electrification, additional line speed improvements, further work at stations and provision for digital signalling, as well as gauge clearance and options to improve freight capability, especially for intermodal traffic.
‘It’s great to see the next round of funding unlocked for major work on this route to commence at pace’, said Tim Wood, Interim Chief Executive at Transport for the North. He said ‘we still need clarity on the full proposal’, with TfN believing that the trans-Pennine route ‘should be wholly electrified and be fully gauge cleared W10/W12 to support the growth in freight movements from our northern ports’.
David Sidebottom, director of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the upgrading ‘will be an early test of the government’s new approach to a more joined up railway. How this work is managed over the coming years will be key to passengers’ trust in the rail industry. Passengers will need to be told what it means for them and their journey and be kept informed about the work.’
Railway Industry Association Chief Executive Darren Caplan said ‘our members will welcome the government’s confirmation of further electrification work on the trans-Pennine route, and look forward to the green light for electrification of the whole route’.
‘We hope the announcement today is the start of an extensive programme to electrify lines around the country’, Caplan added, arguing that ‘a rolling programme of cost-effective electrification — coupled with government support and fleet orders for hydrogen and battery trains — will be essential if the UK is to hit its goals of decarbonising rail by 2040 and securing Net Zero by 2050.’
Labour’s Shadow Rail Minister Tan Dhesi said it was ‘yet another rail infrastructure announcement with no timescales attached’, and ‘no substitute for the long-awaited and postponed Integrated Rail Plan which must be published now and must involve a rolling programme of electrification, not delivering in dribs and drabs, which ends up costing the British taxpayer more.’
Oxford Phase 2The government also announced £69m to progress the next stage of development of the Oxford Phase 2 remodelling project. This includes a new track and platform alongside platform 4, creating an island platform on the west side of the station. This will significantly improve station capacity from 2024 to accommodate new services such as the future East West Rail.
Designs will also be developed for a western station entrance. There will also be road changes, with the road under Botley Road bridge lowered to accommodate standard double-decker buses and a cycle and footpath installed at each side.
Level crossings at Sandy Lane and Yarnton Lane will be closed, and three high speed crossovers installed at Oxford North Junction.
The changes will enable the operation of additional Oxford to Birmingham trains and reduce journey times by up to 2 min, as well as providing capacity to accommodate an additional 12 freight trains per day from the port of Southampton to the Midlands and northern England.
Further funding is required for the full implementation of the remodelling, and a business case is to be submitted to DfT later this year with a decision on final funding expected in spring 2022.
New Stations Fund
A total of £15m from the New Stations Fund has been announced for the future stations at Marsh Barton in Exeter, White Rose between Leeds and Huddersfield, and Thorpe Park to the east of Leeds.
Thorpe Park station is planned for completion in 2024, providing access to Leeds city centre in less than 10 min and York in less than 30 min.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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