Major civil engineering and electrification works will be up for grabs on the £3bn trans-Pennine upgrade, transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed.
The project will involve relaying and rebuilding most of the track bed between Manchester and York, he wrote in a letter to the Railway Industry Association (RIA), and will account for one third of spending on enhancements in Control Period 6.
RIA chief executive Darren Chaplain said the confirmation will give suppliers certainty about the scheme.
Grayling wrote: “Unlike some other investment projects, the Trans-pennine upgrade will be a rolling programme of enhancements, including both major civil engineering projects and electrification.
“The key to delivering improved journey times on what is a very circuitous route through the pennines involves rebuilding and relaying most of the track bed from Manchester to York.
“We are awaiting Network Rail’s final project plan, but we have instructed them to prioritise those elements which bring the quickest passenger benefits.
“This will include things like straightening lengths of track to improve line speed.”
Network Rail is working on proposals with the Department for Transport and Transport for the North and a final project plan is expected later this year, with work due to start in spring 2019.
Grayling announced a £3bn fund for improvements to the line in March.
Caplan said: “I welcome Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s confirmation that both civil engineering and electrification will play key parts in the Trans Pennine Route Upgrade, giving rail suppliers some certainty about the scheme in the years ahead.
“The Railway Industry Association believes that electrification remains the optimal form of traction for intensively used railway lines because it is more environmentally friendly, reduces wear and tear on track and is more cost effective over the long term.
“The industry now looks forward to delivering on the Trans Pennine Route Upgrade, working with the DfT and Network Rail.”