The government has unveiled a new £401m funding package to carry out upgrade work in England.
The majority of funding will go into the Transpennine Route, with £317m earmarked for various upgrades on lines between Leeds, Manchester and York. It will also cover early works on the electrification between York and Church Fenton. Proposals for further electrification on the Transpennine Route are being considered.
The new funds come after years of uncertainty over the Transpennine route upgrades, which included the government being forced to deny reports it planned to ditch improvement plans. Last July saw £589m committed to the upgrades and an update to the route's business plan is expected to be published this summer.
Railway Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan welcomed the commitment to the Transpennine electrification and hoped more such scheme would follow. “We hope the announcement today is the start of an extensive programme to electrify the UK’s railway lines around the country," he said.
The first stage of Oxford Phase two to improve freight capacity from the port of Southampton to the Midlands and North will get £69m of the new funding. A final £15m of funding has been allocated to build new stations at Marsh Barton in Exeter and White Rose and Thorpe Park in Leeds.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the funding reflected the government’s green commitments: “Following closely after our reforms to deliver a modern, green and innovative railway that meets the needs of the nation, this package of £401m will help deliver reliable, punctual services that passengers across the UK can count on,” he said.
A radical overhaul of the UK rail system, called the Williams-Shapps plan, was unveiled last week. It proposes the creation of a new body, Great British Rail, which will take control of the tracks and train services in the UK. Construction industry experts welcomed the proposals with the hope they will make track works ‘simpler’.