The Railway Industry Association (RIA) North has published a new plan detailing how it believes the region’s network should be electrified and improved.

Accompanied by a colour-coded map, ‘Greener, Faster, Better’ sets out RIA North’s priorities for which lines should be electrified first to decarbonise passenger and freight journeys, as well as which lines could benefit from alternative technologies such as batteries or hydrogen. Taking a long-term view running to 2050, the report identifies the Midland Main Line (MML) and TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU) as having the greatest electrification benefits, both of which are due to be electrified as part of the government’s Integrated Rail Plan.

“Many of the North’s major freight and passenger routes continue to rely on diesel trains and critical connections between some of our largest cities are in need of major upgrades,” said Justin Moss, chair of RIA North.

“Electrification is the solution to many of these challenges. That is why we have published a roadmap for how our railway network can be not only be decarbonised through electrification, but also deliver faster journey times. We also identify where other decarbonisation solutions such as battery and hydrogen trains will be most appropriate.”

Other connections in the region identified as ‘first priority' include:

  • Sheffield to Doncaster/Moorthorpe
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Bradford Interchange
  • Northallerton to Saltburn via Middlesborough
  • Manchester to Sheffield (Hope Valley)
  • Leeds to Hull

“Whilst we have seen some progress with commitments from the government in the Integrated Rail Plan, these do not go far or fast enough to reach our climate targets,” Moss continued.  

“To ensure they can be delivered at good value to the taxpayer the industry needs a long-term programme of electrification work starting immediately, which would also help support thousands of green jobs in the sector and drive economic growth around the country.”

Julie Carrier, Decarbonisation lead at RIA North and co-author of the report, added: “We know the North has ambitious targets for Net Zero emissions from transport by 2040, and the railway industry is eager to play its part in this. Not only do we need to decarbonise our industry, but we need to increase the capacity of our railways to take even more passengers and freight through a pipeline of electrification projects.

“We hope that our proposals will help inform the debate about how the industry can deliver these, providing the greatest benefits to passengers and the North’s economy.”