“Northern Powerhouse” rail projects pausedJune 27, 2015
Bad news this week as Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that due to higher than expected costs on some of Network Rail’s schemes in the south, two major modernisation schemes in the north have been “paused” (Sheffield to London, and the Transpennine electrification). It’s not yet clear how long the pause will be or if it might lead to cancellation of some schemes, but it certainly throws doubt over what improvements will be delivered in our area in the next few years.
We do not know if the Wigan to Bolton scheme is to go ahead as planned or will also come under review, and electrification of the route through Walkden, proposed by a government task force in March this year, seems highly likely to be delayed or cancelled.
The more electrification schemes are cancelled or delayed then the fewer diesel units will become available for use on routes like ours. With the government having already announced the withdrawal of all Pacers by 2020 and no replacement trains on order there is a danger of a major shortfall of trains in a few years time.
Labour have claimed that the government knew about Network Rail’s difficulties but chose to announce the “Northern Powerhouse” proposals as an election promise that could not be delivered, claims denied by the government and DfT.