There is a “substantial block of money” set aside for trans-Pennine modernisation plans in CP6, transport secretary Chris Grayling has revealed.
During questioning from the Transport Committee yesterday, Grayling announced that part of a £9bn pot for enhancement work in the five-year £48bn financial control period CP6, budget would be used to fund the trans-Pennine upgrade through Manchester and Leeds.
“We have a substantial block of money in the CP6 budget that’s for trans-Pennine modernisation,” he said.
However he could not confirm the exact amount as Network Rail has not yet provided its proposals and detailed work for the scheme, due at the end of this year.
Grayling has said he wants the trans-Pennine rail route to be Britain’s first digitally controlled intercity main line railway.
Last month he said digital technology is “transforming” the performance of the London Underground network, and wants to apply the same to rail.
Network Rail has been given £5M to put together a plan for embedding digital technology in the trans-Pennine upgrade. The money will come from a £450M allocation for digital rail in last year’s Autumn Statement.
The pause button on the electrification of the route has been hit and unhit by previous transport secretaries, however government now says that if other methods deliver the same speed savings as electrification, cheaper methods are preferred.
Grayling also revealed that the Department for Transport (DfT) is working with manufacturers to bring hydrogen trains to the UK.
“I want to see both battery trains and hydrogen trains starting to be trialled in UK railways. They present a really different alternative for us,” he said.
On the electrification route in Windemere, which was cancelled earlier this year, Grayling said officials from the DfT are working with Northern Rail on putting battery-electric and electric-hybrid trains onto the route.
In July Grayling gave his backing to Crossrail 2, which has yet to be given the green light, At the time, leaders in the North were frustrated about the lack of funding for transport projects. Yesterday (16 October) Grayling said that while he had no official timetable for Crossrail 2, he would expect a Hybrid Bill for Crossrail 2 and for the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme to go through parliament at the same time.
The Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme aims to better connect major economic centres in the North. An underground rail station at Manchester Piccadilly could be built to accommodate services for the scheme.