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Electrification plans delayed

 

TransPennine rail electrification plans delayed

First TransPennine Express train
Electrification would cut train journey times between Manchester, Leeds and York

The planned electrification of the TransPennine Express railway line between Manchester and York has been delayed, with no set completion date.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, had asked the government for an update on the plans.

The project, electrifying the route which connects Manchester, Leeds and York, was announced in November 2011.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said Network Rail had found "more work" was needed than originally proposed.

Work would be delayed and a completion date could not yet be set, he added.

'Unacceptable'

The electrification plan was part of a wider package of measures to upgrade the rail network in the north as part of Chancellor George Osborne's ambition to create a northern economic "powerhouse".

Investment in new rolling stock for rail franchises in the north of England was also announced by the government in 2014.

Mr Reynolds said he was "incredibly disappointed" about the electrification delay.

"We are now in a situation where passenger numbers are increasing at stations like Stalybridge and Mossley and this electrification is badly needed", he said. "Yet the government and Network Rail cannot even give a set date when the delayed work will be completed.

"This is unacceptable, and I will be writing to the rail minister and Network Rail to demand a meeting with both."

Mr Jones said: "Network Rail has been working with the department to ensure that this work will be planned as efficiently as possible, and we cannot clarify the completion date until the planning is completed."

A Network Rail spokesperson said the delay was an attempt to "take the maximum advantage that this investment opportunity presents".

The company said it was revising the scheme so it would not only deliver the advantages of an electrified railway, but also significantly improve journey times and capacity.

"This means the original plan to deliver the electrification project by 2019 will take longer as more work is needed and the plans for the new, bigger scheme are currently under way."

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