£4bn plan unveiled to revamp region’s railways

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PLANS TO spend around £4bn improving the Yorkshire rail network and lines serving the region have been unveiled today.

Network Rail’s programme for the next five years includes delivering the Government’s promise to electrify the Transpennine and Midland Mainline routes.

It has also confirmed it will press ahead with the Northern Hub, which will allow 700 extra trains to run across the North.

The plan includes proposals for Low Moor, Kirkstall Forge, Apperley Bridge and Elland and platform extensions in West and South Yorkshire to cope with longer trains. Improvements will also be made at Leeds and Huddersfield stations.

Network Rail’s route managing director, Phil Verster, said: “Our railway is a vital part of our national infrastructure. Rail services connect homes and workplaces, businesses and markets; they create jobs, stimulate trade and support the growth of a balanced economy.

“Passenger numbers into Leeds during the morning peak are expected to increase by 20 per cent by 2019 and we are predicting similar growth across Yorkshire.

“Our investment plans are crucial to making sure we can meet that demand whilst maintaining a safe and reliable service and making the improvements in performance passengers rightly expect.”

Network Rail will spend £247m to remove bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line and will invest in earthworks and drainage to protect against bad weather.

Mr Verster said: “Extreme weather is an increasingly frequent threat to our network, as we have seen with St Jude’s storm last year and the heavy rain and flooding of 2012.

“We have robust plans to target the most vulnerable parts of our route to improve resilience and make sure we are doing everything possible to keep services running whatever the weather.”

Business leaders in North Yorkshire are continuing to press the Government to invest in the electrification of the Harrogate line. Earlier this month, the Department for Transport indicated it was moving forward with proposals to electrify the line between Selby and Hull.

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