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TransPennine electrification plans could be 'ditched'

Plans to electrify the TransPennine rail line across the North could be ditched over cost fears, according to reports.

A report in The Sunday Times claimed ministers were preparing to cancel electrification plans for the route between Manchester and York / Selby in favour of alternative forms of upgrade, after a Network Rail review found that full electrification would not be value for money.

In December last year, Network Rail presented a report on the TransPennine route outlining the options for upgrading it.

According to The Sunday Times, Network Rail found that the option to electrify the line was the most expensive of all the upgrade options.

Its report identified the difficulty of fixing electric cables to Pennines rock and the need to raise bridges as the primary factors behind the high costs.

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.

The government has set aside £3bn for TransPennine upgrades but the full scope of works has yet to be finalised.

The cancelling of the TransPennine electrification in favour of alternative upgrades would be the latest part of the Network Rail’s multi-billion-pound electrification programme to be scrapped.

Last July transport secretary Chris Grayling announced he was to scrap the electrification of the London-Sheffield Midland Mainline north of Kettering.

It came on the same day that Mr Grayling revealed he would also be cancelling the electrification of the Great Western line between Cardiff and Swansea.

In both cases the Department for Transport opted to run bi-mode trains – electro-diesel locomotives – on these parts of the line instead of electrification.

Many of the decisions to scrap electrifications have come as a result of cost overruns and delays to Great Western electrification, which is expected to cost £2.8bn – three times higher than originally estimated.

Last week the transport select committee published a report criticising the government’s decision to scrap electrification schemes.

The report called for electrification schemes such as the Midland Main Line and Great Western from Cardiff to Swansea to be recategorised as pending, and placed back in the DfT Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline for further development.

Following the report, the committee’s chair Lilian Greenwood said that without transport investments like electrification, regional economies “would never be able to catch up to London while such inequalities existed”.

Construction News has contacted the Department for Transport for comment.

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