A GOVERNMENT taskforce will consider the business case for a major upgrade of rail routes the length and breadth of Yorkshire.
Transport bosses and MPs from across the region have welcomed Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s decision to establish a taskforce to consider the case for further electrification of railway lines across the North.
Electrified rail lines typically allow faster, smoother and more frequent journeys than traditional diesel locomotives. Electric trains are less likely to breakdown and significantly cheaper to run.
The coalition has already committed to a massive electrification programme covering more than 800 miles of track before the end of the decade, including the trans-Pennine railway from Liverpool to Selby via Leeds and Manchester, and the Midlands mainline from Sheffield to the south coast.
The new taskforce will consider which tranches of track should be electrified next – with several routes around Yorkshire having made the shortlist.
They include the Leeds-Harrogate-York line; the final stretch of the trans-Pennine route from Selby to Hull; and the routes from Sheffield to Leeds, Manchester and Doncaster.
The news was warmly welcomed in Harrogate, where business and political leaders recently drew up a formal business case for Government for the proposed £94m electrification of the Harrogate-Leeds line.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said: “Electrification will mean newer trains, more services and faster connections.
“I have written to the Transport Secretary today thanking him for setting up this group and including our local line in the short list for electrification.
“When we think of the benefits electrification can bring to our area in terms of business and leisure tourism, trade and easing congestion, I believe we are in with a good chance of persuading the task force that our case is among the strongest.”
In West Yorkshire, local transport authority Metro also welcomed the news.
Metro chairman James Lewis said: “I’m delighted the DfT recognises the potential of these routes to generate greater economic growth and employment opportunities, and is now considering them for electrification – although I would like to see the Calder Valley line linking Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Manchester included on the list.”