Electric Railway Charter Update

RIA (Rail Industry Association) North has published a plan for electrification across the North spanning Carlisle, Teesside and the East Midlands. Most lines are designated priority 1 (yellow on map below). Priority 2 lines (green) would later transform bi-mode operation to pure electric. Priority 3 (blue) is longer term battery/hydrogen proposals around the edges of the map. RIA North marks 36 freight terminals that would be decarbonised one way or another.

Needless to say, all cross-Pennine routes are priority 1 from Merseyside to Humberside and Scarborough, including of course the full Calder Valley line that was top-ranked by the 2015 task force. Manchester-Bradford-Leeds is second among the top 10 priority 1 schemes, after Sheffield-Doncaster/Wakefield. Completion of Huddersfield and London-Sheffield is assumed. Our thumbnail of RIA North’s map below may be small print but you can find the whole report at Roadmap for a green railway in the North unveiled (riagb.org.uk).

The trick now of course is to convince HM Treasury that not only is electrification affordable. We cannot afford not to electrify, given environmental and resources uncertainties about hydrogen (the RIA barely mentions it) and about batteries (where’s all the lithium coming from?) and less-than ideal efficiency – wastefulness – of multi-mode trains. Electrification will pay for itself by cutting running costs, benefitting customers and combatting climate change.

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