Electric rail network to expand

Network Rail has unveiled a study that claims expanding the electrified rail network further will provide significant benefits to the UK transport system.

The year-long study stated that electrification of the London to Sheffield route, operated by Midland Mainline, would provide significant business opportunities and could pay for itself within 60 years as a result of cheaper running costs.

The paper also identified two strategic infill schemes for London, as well as the Liverpool to Manchester line. Further infill schemes have been recommended but are expected to be prioritised alongside passenger rolling stock replacement.

Iain Coucher, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: ‘Passengers would see enormous benefits from further electrification with faster, quieter, smoother, greener journeys.

‘The case for the Midland Mainline is extremely strong. Affordability and bringing down the cost of such projects are key if they’re to get the green light.’

Currently, only 40 per cent of the rail network is electrified, including most of the south east of England and the main lines from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

According to Network Rail, electrifying the network would result in trains that are 50 per cent cheaper to run than their diesel equivalent, are 33 per cent cheaper to maintain, produce 30 per cent less CO2 and are 90 per cent more reliable.

It added that passengers would experience faster journeys, as electric trains are able to accelerate more quickly and provide up to 20 per cent more seats compared with the existing diesel models.

In July, the group received approval for schemes to electrify routes between London and Swansea and Liverpool and Manchester. Over the next five years the company hopes to develop methods that will allow cost-effective installation of the power lines.