Yorkshire’s rail passengers can look forward to more trains, more seats, reduced congestion and bigger, better stations as Network Rail embarks on its next five year investment programme.
The ambitious plan will see the busiest parts of the rail network in Yorkshire and connecting routes transformed by investment that will make a tangible improvement to people’s lives and significantly boost the economy.
By 2019 20% more passengers are expected to be travelling into Leeds each weekday morning and 14% more into the other major towns and cities in the region. Overall demand for rail freight is also predicted to increase by 23%. To meet that demand, Network Rail and its industry partners will deliver a programme of investment worth £4.2 billion in the East Coast and East Midlands.
Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, said: “Our railway is a vital part of our national infrastructure. Rail services connect homes and workplaces, businesses and markets; they create jobs, stimulate trade and support the growth of a balanced economy.
“Passenger numbers into Leeds during the morning peak are expected to increase by 20% by 2019 and we are predicting similar growth across Yorkshire. Our investment plans are crucial to making sure we can meet that demand whilst maintaining a safe and reliable service and making the improvements in performance passengers rightly expect.”
Investments in Yorkshire include:
electrification of the North TransPennine and Midland Main Line routes, reducing the cost of running the railway and reducing carbon emissions
“Northern Hub” elements, including a new line at Dore. This programme will allow up to 700 more trains to run each day across the North of England, providing the space for up to 44 million more passengers a year
investment worth £247million to unlock bottlenecks and improve performance on the East Coast Main Line
proposals for new stations at Low Moor, Kirkstall Forge, Apperley Bridge and Elland to give more passengers easy access to rail services
platform extensions in West and South Yorkshire to allow longer trains to run and more passengers to travel on every service
improvements at Leeds and Huddersfield to allow more and longer services to run
Key elements of the infrastructure (track, signals bridges etc) will also be replaced and renewed. The plans include extensive investment in earthworks and drainage to make the route more resilient in times of extreme weather.
Mr Verster said: “Extreme weather is an increasingly frequent threat to our network, as we have seen with St Jude’s storm last year and the heavy rain and flooding of 2012. We have robust plans to target the most vulnerable parts of our route to improve resilience and make sure we are doing everything possible to keep services running whatever the weather.”
Finally, speaking about the fundamentally important areas of safety and train performance, Mr Verster added: “The safety of everyone who comes into contact with the railway, whether as a passenger, worker or user of a level crossing remains of the utmost importance. We will continue to close level crossings where possible and make improvements when closure is not an option.
“At the same time, along with our colleagues in the train operators, we are committed to make significant improvements in the number of trains which run on time. We are running more trains than ever before and performance remains a tough challenge. Our investment programme over the next five years will help to address the issues of congestion and ageing infrastructure to help drive up train performance.”