SIX rail lines through Yorkshire should be prioritised for electrification to help grow the region’s economy, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin was told today.
A cross-party group set up by the Government to advise on rail investment in the north has recommended the Harrogate line, Calder Valley line and the Selby to Hull line should be at the top of the list for the next round of electrification along with the Dearne Valley line, the route connection Sheffield to Leeds via Barnsley and the stretch from Northallerton to Middlesbrough.
Their report was presented to Mr McLoughlin at Sheffield Station today.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who chaired the group, said: “The need for rail electrification is significant. It is part of the improvements in infrastructure that we need in the north.
“We know how much there is to do and to do it we are looking at a task of generational scale. Indeed, this report is intended to look years ahead.”
The report recommends that the case for electrifying 12 lines, including the six through Yorkshire, is developed further ready for the next investment plan by Network Rail which will cover the five years from 2019.
Bradford Council leader David Green said: “This report provides a sound starting point for a stable electrification programme for railways in the North of England. We recommend that the Government commits to full electrification of routes across the North of England and that the rail industry rises to the challenge to increase the amount of electrification it can deliver year on year.
“This investment is sorely needed across the North to drive economic growth and improve the lives of northerners.”
Work is already underway to electrify the route between Manchester, York and Leeds as part of Network Rail’s existing plans. The advisory group’s recommendations will feed into work preparing plans for the next round of rail investment from 2019.
Mr McLoughlin said: “I want to see a rolling plan for further electrification and this study will have a vital part to play in setting the agenda for 2019 and beyond.
“Network Rail will take the Task Force’s findings into account as it develops its nationwide plan to improve the nation’s railways.”