10 most important routes to electrify for a green railway in the North | So Good News


The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has outlined its “road map for a green railway in the north”, which involves electrifying hundreds of kilometers of routes in the north of England.

In total, the RIA has proposed upgrades to 69 routes, with 40 identified as top priorities. Of these prioritized upgrades, RIA has compiled its “Top 10 schemes” that should be prioritized for electrification.

They are:

  • Sheffield to Doncaster/Moorthorpe
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Bradford Interchange
  • Northallerton to Saltburn via Middlesborough
  • Manchester to Sheffield (Hope Valley)
  • Leeds to Hull
  • Carlisle to Newcastle
  • Doncaster to Immingham
  • Wakefield Kirkgate to Drax/Leeds
  • Sheffield to Werrington via Lincoln
  • Leeds to York via Harrogate

RIA North’s plan, entitled ‘Greener, Faster, Better’, sets a long-term vision for which passenger and freight routes should be prioritized for electrification, and other low-carbon technologies such as batteries and hydrogen, to remove polluting diesel trains from the network.

Looking ahead to 2050, the report identifies strategic freight lines, intercity corridors and suburban networks across the North that should be at the top of the list to be electrified. According to RIA North, the Midland Main Line (MML) and the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU) offer the biggest decarbonisation benefits – both of which the government announced they will electrify as part of the Integrated Rail Plan.

RIA North chairman Justin Moss said: “Rail will be essential for the UK to reach its Net Zero transport targets, as a pure form of mass transport. However, many of the North’s major freight and passenger routes still rely on diesel trains, and critical links between some of our largest cities are in need of major upgrades.

“Electrification is the solution to many of these challenges. That is why we have published a roadmap for how our rail network can not only be decarbonised through electrification, but also deliver faster journey times. We also identify where other decarbonisation solutions such as battery and hydrogen trains would be most appropriate.

– Although we have seen some progress with commitments from the government in the integrated railway plan, these do not go far or fast enough to achieve our climate goals. To ensure they can be delivered at good value to taxpayers, the industry needs a long-term program of electrification work starting immediately, which will also help support thousands of green jobs in the sector and drive economic growth around the country.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Transport for the North and our partners in government to build a world-class Net Zero railway, not just for the North of England but for the whole of the UK.”

RIA North decarbonisation lead and co-author of the report Julie Carrier added: “We know the North has ambitious targets for net zero emissions from transport by 2040 and the rail industry is keen to play its part in this. Not only must we decarbonise our industry, but we need to increase the capacity of our railways to carry even more passengers and freight through a pipeline of electrification projects.

“We hope that our proposals will help inform the debate on how the industry can deliver these, and provide the greatest benefits for passengers and the Nordic economy.”

The Electrification Route Prioritization Plan was written by RIA North’s Decarbonisation Working Group, made up of cross-industry experts, and forms part of their ongoing engagement with supply chain partners, government, Transport for the North and Network Rail.

The Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan commits to a pipeline of electrification projects, ensuring that lessons learned from previous schemes and individual projects deliver value for money.

Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy – published in 2020 – also argues for a whole program of electrification on the UK’s rail network.

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