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Midland Main Line electrification unpaused – but completion delayed by years

Midland Main Line and TransPennine railway electrification works are set to restart under plans announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin today (30 September).

The ‘unpause’ is part of Sir Peter Hendy’s work to reset Network Rail’s enhancements programme, which was going massively over-budget and over-schedule. Hendy, the new chair of NetworK Rail, has outlined to McLoughlin how the work could continue, resulting in the DfT ordering Network Rail to resume works.

Hendy said in a letter to McLoughlin that he recommended both works should be resumed “with immediate effect”

To which McLoughlin replied: “I would be grateful if they could be un-paused with immediate effect and progressed with some urgency. This work will sit alongside new TransPennine and Northern rail franchise awards which will be announced in December.

“I recognise that there is more work to do on your overall re-plan and that successful delivery of these projects has some implications.”

Hendy said in a statement: “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 Main Line.

McLoughlin added that Hendy’s full report still “remains on track” for publication in November.

Midland Main Line

Works on the Midland Main Line will take years longer than originally planned, with electrification of the line north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby set for 2019 and the line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Sheffield set for 2023.

The original plan, costed at £1.6bn, was to have electric trains running to Corby by December 2017, Derby and Nottingham by December 2019 and to Sheffield by December 2020.

In his letter to the transport secretary, Hendy said he understood that the electrification un-pause would further suffocate the “already evidence likely funding shortfall in CP5”. Because of this, his re-plan will set out what Network Rail can do “within its own resources to mitigate the impact of the rest of the affordable programme”.

“Of course, a considerable amount of the electrification costs of both schemes will fall outside CP5 and this will form part of the core of CP6 as schemes which will by then be underway.”



Network Rail will work alongside the Department for Transport and Rail North to develop a new electrification plan of the TransPennine Line, with details considered to be an “improvement” on the previous plan. The upgrade is expected to provide capacity for six fast or semi-fast trains per hour, take up to 15 minutes off current journey times between Manchester and York and finish by 2022.

Hendy said in his letter to McLoughlin: “In order to ensure expenditure is not wasted on abortive works, my advice is that a full planning exercise should start immediately with all relevant parties. This will establish a firm detailed design which increases benefits to passengers compared to the previous paused scheme, and this will be concluded by the end of 2017.

“During this time we should also explore the best methods of delivery on the Trans-Pennine route, bearing in mind the need to keep the railway operational, but also the need for necessary access to the railway for the works.

“My advice is that commencing electrification at the beginning of 2018 (with some enabling works carried out before then) could result in delivery by end 2022. Hence while this is a decision for you, my advice is that the project can be un-paused with immediate effect.”



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