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Minister quashes fears over TransPennine electrification

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has said the £3bn upgrade of the TransPennine route will include electrification, following fears that plans to electrify the route could be scrapped by the government.

Last month it was reported that the government was planning to ditch TransPennine electrification in favour of alternative upgrades due to cost concerns.

The Sunday Times reported that ministers were preparing to cancel electrification plans after a report from Network Rail found it was more expensive than other upgrade options.

However, Mr Grayling (pictured) has now assured the industry that electrification will be a key part of the enhancements planned for the TransPennine route during the CP6 spending cycle.

In a letter to the Railway Industry Association, Mr Grayling said: “Unlike some other investment projects, the TransPennine upgrade will be a rolling programme of enhancements, including both civil engineering programmes and electrification.”

The TransPennine upgrade will include £3bn of enhancement schemes between Manchester and York / Selby, with work starting in spring 2019.

Mr Grayling said the upgrades would see the re-laying of most of the track on the line, with Network Rail also looking to straighten many sections of the route to improve line speed.

The transport secretary added that Network Rail was in discussions with Transport for the North to determine the best way to roll out major improvements, with a final project plan expected later this year.

RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said: “I welcome transport secretary Chris Grayling’s confirmation that both civil engineering and electrification will play key parts in the TransPennine Route Upgrade, giving rail suppliers some certainty about the scheme in the years ahead.

“The Railway Industry Association believes that electrification remains the optimal form of traction for intensively used lines because it is more environmentally friendly, reduces wear and tear on track, and is more cost-effective over the long term.”

A JV between Amey, Bam and Arup is contracted to deliver upgrades on the line west of Leeds, while a VolkerRail, Murphy and Siemens consortium has been chosen for work east of Leeds. 

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