U.K. to Resume Rail Electrification After Network Rail Rethink

Electrification of key railway lines that link London with central England and connect the major cities of the North is to go ahead after track owner Network Rail Ltd. submitted new proposals for the stalled program, the British government said Wednesday.

The Midland Mainline will be electrified as far as Sheffield by 2023, while the Transpennine route from Manchester to York will be fully wired by 2022, allowing the use of electric traction for the full length of the line between Liverpool and Newcastle, the Department for Transport said in a statement.

Enhancements seen as vital to increasing the speed and capacity of Britain’s crowded trains will resume after the DfT approved revised Network Rail plans for work that was suspended in June, when Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said it was “costing more and taking longer” than envisaged. The new approach was devised by Network Rail Chairman Peter Hendy, who took over following the dismissal of Richard Parry-Jones.

McLoughlin said in the DfT statement that the decision to restart the upgrades was testimony to the government’s “one nation” credentials, while Hendy said the pause had permitted the formulation of “a better plan for passengers.”

New contracts for operation of the Northern and TransPennine rail franchises will be awarded before the end of the year, McLoughlin said.

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