The Electrification Task Force has sent a list of priority electrification schemes to the Secretary of State for Transport, recommending that designs be progressed "immediately" for 12 train routes across the North.
In the Northern Sparks report published yesterday, the task force highlighted the following routes:
- Calder Valley (Full)
- Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington Central
- Southport/Kirkby to Salford Crescent
- Chester to Stockport
- Northallerton to Middlesbrough
- Leeds to York via Harrogate
- Selby to Hull
- Sheffield (Meadowhall) to Leeds via Barnsley / Castleford & connections
- Bolton to Clitheroe
- Sheffield to Doncaster/Wakefield Westgate (Dearne Valley)
- Hazel Grove to Buxton
- Warrington to Chester
While there are a further 20 lines that the report said were in need of electrification, the list of 12 represented the first tier of "urgent" schemes. The routes were designated priority projects due to a combination of their economic impact, the quality of their current train stock,
The task force was established in 2013 and is made up of Northern MPs and councillors, supported by officers from Network Rail and Rail North's partner authorities. Andrew Jones MP is the chairman.
Within the Northern Sparks report, the committee said: "The criteria used to put all electrification schemes into priority order placed emphasis on the impact that electrification would have on the wider economy. The content of tier one reflects this.
"We recommend that the schemes in this tier should be progressed through detailed design and business case development immediately, so that a properly costed and resourced programme can be presented for the next round of the rail industry planning cycle. This would allow schemes to start in 2019/2020 when the current committed programme comes to an end."
In response to the report, Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin, said it would "have a vital part to play in setting the agenda for 2019 and beyond."
Passengers made the first journeys on an electric train between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport station on Thursday 5 March, with the 6.16am Airport service the first train to use the newly electrified route following the completion of work by Network Rail.
The trains launched on Thursday are the first of a fleet of 20 trains which will be rolled out on the route in coming months. The electrification of the line means that passengers are able to travel on electric trains which are quieter, more reliable and have more space.
Network Rail recently completed the electrification of the route between Newton-le-Willows and Liverpool Lime Street which linked the previously electrified section between Manchester and Newton-le-Willows.