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Electrification programme

Railfuture welcomed the inclusion of a large number of electrification projects in the High Level Output Specification for Control Period 5 (2014-19) - this investment is necessary to reduce unit operating costs so that additional capacity can be provided to accommodate rail travel growth without requiring more subsidy. However funding must be made available to create a rolling programme of electrification continuing into CP6 and CP7, so that the electrification teams and equipment do not have to be run down as projects complete towards the end of CP5, in 2019.

The key criteria for prioritisation in a rolling programme beyond CP5 are:
  • Strategic Schemes. These are ones which, following on from the newly-authorised ones, would enhance and enable, for the benefit of both passenger and freight operators, further through running of and connections between electrified networks. (Electrification to/from freight terminals would also be necessary to enable freight operators to switch increasingly to electric traction). The impact of the proposed HS2 Network also needs to be taken into account.
  • Infill and Line of Route Schemes. Schemes which would allow of replacement of diesel trains with electric stock.

Prime candidates for a rolling programme

The schemes which we consider meet these priority criteria are:

Extension of Midland Mainline Electrification.
The current authorised scheme covers electrification from (St.Pancras), Bedford to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. This needs to be extended to include the Erewash Valley line from Trent Junction to Clay Cross plus Nottingham to Trowell Junction, and extensions from Sheffield to Moorthorpe (for Wakefield and Leeds) and Doncaster (for York). This would enable future bi-mode trains to run extensively electrically on the Cross Country network and freight trains from the Southampton “Electric Spine” axis to access the East Coast Mainline. A further most useful addition would be to extend the envisaged electrification from Kettering to Corby, onwards from Corby to Manton Junction and Leicester (Syston), which would provide a useful MML diversionary route. See also East-West Electric Freight Spine below.

Extension of Trans Pennine Electrification
The current authorised scheme covers electrification from Liverpool to Manchester to Leeds (via Huddersfield) and then York and Selby. Through electric trains would not be able to replace current through diesel services to Hull, Scarborough and the final part to Middlesborough. The following lines, therefore, also need to be electrified: Selby to Hull, York to Scarborough and Northallerton to Middlesborough. That to Hull would also facilitate through electric trains from Hull to London. With electrification also from Northallerton to Sunderland and Newcastle, London bound trains could also become electric and a useful electrified diversionary route for ECML trains provided. This will become even more important post HS2.

East-West Electric Freight Spine
Similarly to the already planned Freight Spine from Southampton, one from East to West would also be strategically beneficial. This would involve electrification of the whole line from Felixstowe to Birmingham, already being upgraded to take more freight trains by, for example, the new chord at Nuneaton. Broken down, Felixstowe to Ipswich would also facilitate through electric haulage for freight trains to/through London. Ipswich to Peterborough would gain access to the East Coast Mainline. Peterborough to Leicester (Syston) would do the same in respect of the Midland Main Line. Leicester (Wigston) to Nuneaton for the West Coast Mainline, and Nuneaton to Birmingham for all its freight terminals. A most useful bi-product would be for the Cross Country passenger service from Birmingham to Stansted Airport to convert to electric trains. There would also be synergy/commonality with the Midland Main Line Electrification above.

Impact of HS2 Network
Command Paper 8508, setting out the initial proposals for HS2 (Phase Two), itself makes reference to the need for accompanying electrification on the existing network so as to facilitate connectivity with HS2. Two key routes stand out:
  • With a direct physical connection between the networks at Crewe, electrification of the line from Crewe to Chester and Bangor/Holyhead will be essential to allow direct services to London to be maintained. (Also, if Chester to Warrington were added, electric services from North Wales to Manchester would be feasible).
  • The Command Paper also itself envisages the upgrade and electrification of the route from Bristol to Birmingham to connect into HS2 for the North West and Scotland and the North East. It would make every kind of sense for the remaining part of the Cross Country route from Birmingham to Derby also to be electrified, thus connecting with the MML electrification.
Extension of Great Western Mainline Electrification
As planned, this would electrify (London) to Bristol and through to Swansea, plus to Newbury on the direct route to Exeter using IEPs. It is understood that rolling stock for services to the South West would be refurbished HSTs, while Cross Country would continue to use diesel Voyagers. This, surely, cannot be a long term solution. Electrification from both Bristol and Newbury to Exeter and then Plymouth should follow. Going further to Penzance would be ideal for rolling stock provision.

Scotland
Electrification of the principal line from Glasgow (Queen St.) to Edinburgh via Falkirk is already planned. The main lines from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen would represent welcome strategic mainline extensions and, in the latter case would reduce for through London services the need for bi-mode trains.

Infill Schemes and Line of Route Extensions
A variety of such schemes exist. Priority should be given to:
  • Cricklewood to Acton Main Line. Similarly, inclusion of this route would facilitate access of electrically-hauled freights to the Great Western Mainline.
  • Wolverhampton to Telford and Shrewbury. This would enable West Coast Mainline electric trains to service these towns: in conjunction with electrification between Crewe and Chester/Holyhead above, it would eliminate diesel workings into Euston.
  • Carnforth to Barrow-in-Furness. Same effect as above.
  • Grantham to Nottingham. This would add a further linkage between the ECML and the MML systems.
Other Schemes
These are a variety of schemes for City Conurbations where electrification is not already in place or is provided on a minimalist basis, infill in otherwise electrified areas, and secondary main line routes electrification of which would fit the generic case for electrification.
  • Birmingham/West Midlands. Currently, and including the East-West Electric Freight Spine and Bristol - Birmingham - Derby electrification to support the HS2 network points above, all suburban services from Birmingham (New St.) are, or would be electrified. All those from Snow Hill and Moor St. stations would still be fully diesel operated. At some point in time, it would make sense for all these routes to be electrified, probably to Worcester, Stratford-on-Avon and Leamington Spa.
  • Chiltern Lines. At Leamington Spa, this would connect with the already planned “freight spine” from Southampton, which includes the Leamington to Banbury section. It would make sense, therefore, to provide also for the electrification of the Chiltern Lines from Banbury and Aylesbury to Marylebone, thus covering the last remaining diesel routes into London.
  • More Trans-Pennine Routes. Consideration should also be given to the two other Trans Pennine Routes. These are the “Calder Valley” lines from Manchester(Victoria) to Halifax, Bradford (Interchange) and Leeds and the “Hope Valley” lines from Stockport (Hazel Grove) to Sheffield (Dore and Totley). In conjunction with these schemes, further consideration should be given to converting a range of other dieselised services in the Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield City Conurbations, for example Leeds to York via Harrogate.
  • Ex-'Southern Region' Third Rail Area. There are a number of still diesel services which could usefully be converted. These are: Hurst Green to Uckfield (including extension to Lewes if reopened), the Marshlink line between Ashford and Ore via Rye, and the North Downs line between Reigate and Guildford and between Ash and Wokingham.
  • Scotland. Further services in Scotland could include Stirling to Alloa and the loop from Inverkeithing to Dunfermline and Thornton Junction.
  • Other Secondary Main Lines. Other such routes could include Newport (Wales) to Shrewsbury and Crewe, Newport (Wales) to Gloucester and Gloucester to Swindon.
There may be other chords and curves for which electrification would be justified.

Approved schemes

The major projects which were approved for CP5 include:

Midland Main Line (north of Bedford) APPROVED July 2012
Midland main line electrification was long overdue. Now the Government has approved a £500 million electrification programme from Bedford to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. Of course the electric wires need to extend a few more miles north to Moorthorpe (South Kirby Junction) to join up with the electrified East Coast main line. To make the electrification even more effective, a series of upgrades need to be to be made to the MML's track and signalling infrastructure. Investment in the Midland main line is long overdue. Line speeds are low. The average speed of trains to Nottingham is 64 mph, compared to 90mph for trains to Leeds on the electrified East Coast main line. Railfuture will be campaigning to ensure that suitable trains are provided.

Electric Spine APPROVED July 2012
The Government sprang a favourable surprise in HLOS 2012 by approving electrification from Southampton to Nuneaton via Reading, Oxford and Coventry, and Oxford to Bedford via Bletchley and then on via the Midland Main Line to Nottingham, Derby/Sheffield and Corby. This will provide a through route for freight from Southampton to the West Midlands, East Midlands and the North. It will also entail conversion from third rail to 25KV overhead between Southampton and Basingstoke, which will act as a pilot for conversion of the rest of the third rail network in future.

Great Western Main Line APPROVED July 2012
The Labour Government approved the £1 billion scheme in 2010 as far as Swansea. The coalition Government put it hold but then approved it in March 2011, but only as far as Cardiff. Electrification as far as Swansea was approved in July 2012, plus the Welsh Valleys network.

Glasgow-Edinburgh WORK UNDER WAY 2012
Electrification of the Glasgow to Edinburgh mainline is being carried out as part of a £1 billion upgrade. It will be complete by 2016.

North West Electrification
  • Liverpool-Manchester via Newton le Willows, and Huyton - Wigan. Work started 2012 and COMPLETED May 2015, 5 months late.
  • Manchester-Blackpool via Bolton and Preston. WORK UNDER WAY 2013-16. This was planned to complete the North Western triangle electrification scheme by 2016, but will now be December 2017 for Manchester - Preston, December 2022 for Guide Bridge - Stalybridge, and Blackpool North deferred to CP6.
  • Transpennine WORK UNDER WAY 2013-14. The Government approved the £290 million scheme from Manchester to Leeds and York in November 2011. Bridgework started in 2013 with phased implementation planned from late 2016 to 2018, but work has been 'paused'.
  • Oxenholme-Windermere APPROVED 2013. An infill scheme in an otherwise electrified area, which avoids diesels running long distances under the wires - now delayed to CP6.
Barking-Gospel Oak between Gospel Oak and Woodgrange Park.
As well as electrifying a diesel passenger “pocket” of London Overground, this will provide for a second electrified pathway for freight going to/from both Felixstowe and the new London Gateway Port.

Walsall-Rugeley APPROVED 2012
To fill the gap in the cross-city network



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