Chancellor announces rail funding

Posted on 12 Oct 2017 and read 258 times
Chancellor announces rail funding In a speech he made at the Conservative Party conference, Chancellor Philip Hammond said that rail infrastructure in the North of England will get a £300 million investment, which will be used to link HS2 — the high-speed rail line running from London to Birmingham — with faster services between Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and York.

This so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ scheme has been mooted for a long time, as a way to bring growth to cities in the North of England.

Originally, it was to include full electrification of the lines from London to Sheffield and Manchester to Leeds, but those projects have since been dropped.

The Government’s latest decision represents a renewed commitment to improving transport links in the North. Mr Hammond said: “This investment will go towards ensuring that HS2 infrastructure can link up with future Northern Powerhouse and Midlands rail projects — helping the towns and cities of the North reach their full potential.”

Earlier, Rail Minister Paul Maynard said Northern Powerhouse Rail would help unlock the full benefits of HS2. “My view is that there is no point in having HS2 if you don’t have Northern Powerhouse Rail. The whole point of HS2 coming to the North is to reduce the North-South divide.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the Railway Industry Association. Its chief executive, Darren Caplan, said: “I am delighted to see the Chancellor commit to £300 million for new rail projects across the North.

"This funding is very much needed in order to speed up journey times and provide better services for passengers and freight customers across the region, and also to improve countrywide connectivity.”

Speaking to Professional Engineering, Simon Iwnicki — director of the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research — said it remains to be seen how the £300 million investment will be used, but in the absence of full electrification, any new proposals are likely to rely on ‘bi-mode trains’ that can run on both diesel and electric.

“These are starting to come into use in the UK, with the new Hitachi fleets being supplied to Great Western and the Transpennine routes. They draw power from the overhead lines when they’re available, and use diesel engines when they’re not.”

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