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Railway Modernisation

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, has made the following ministerial statement:

In July, I announced a £1.1 billion investment in the electrification of the Great Western Main Line between London and South Wales, and the line between Liverpool and Manchester.

In the pre-Budget report the Chancellor indicated that the Government are now going ahead with plans for electrification of further lines in the North-West. I can today set out the lines and expected timescales involved.

The first line is between Huyton—on the line running from Liverpool to Manchester—and Wigan, on the already electrified West Coast Main Line. This will allow electric trains to operate between Liverpool and Wigan via St. Helens. The second line is between Manchester and Euxton Junction—just south of Preston on the West Coast Main Line. This will allow electric trains to operate between Manchester and Preston, via Bolton. The third line is between Blackpool North and Preston. This will allow electric trains to operate between Blackpool North and both Liverpool and Manchester.

Our plans envisage that, once electrified, these three lines will be served by thoroughly refurbished electric commuter trains transferred from the Thameslink line. This will increase rail capacity and reliability between key cities and towns in the North-West. It will allow 30 year old “Pacer” diesel trains to be retired, and modern diesel trains to be transferred to other routes requiring extra capacity. It will also help to reduce the long-term cost of operating the railway, and reduce carbon emissions.

Network Rail will now develop detailed plans to complete these electrification projects alongside the previously-announced plans for Liverpool to Manchester, opening in sequence between 2014 and 2016. Funding of up to £1.1 billion had already been allocated for electrification between Liverpool and Manchester and on the Great Western Main Line. Subject to detailed work on value for money on each new line, a further £200 million will be provided from within Network Rail’s capital programme, giving a total investment available for electrification of up to £1.3 billion.

In July I undertook to review the Department’s rolling stock plan in the light of the electrification announcements and other developments. The Government remain committed to providing an additional 1,300 carriages by mid-2014. Until commercial negotiations on the Thameslink programme are completed, I am not in a position to update the rolling stock plan, which is critically dependent on the determination of the Thameslink rolling stock contract. However, I can give the following detail of recent and projected rolling stock procurements:

Southeastern introduced 48 cascaded carriages in March 2009 as the first phase of additional capacity to address the crowding of train services through London Bridge to London Charing Cross and London Cannon Street. The specification for the second phase is now being developed as part of the Thameslink Key Output 1 (December 2011) and Key Output 2 (December 2015) service patterns which are being discussed with train operators.

The East Anglia franchise operator will take delivery of 120 new carriages for Stansted Express services, as part of the Department’s agreement with the current train operating company. This will enable the carriages currently forming these trains to be redeployed to lengthen other services into London Liverpool Street. National Express East Anglia is also deploying a further 68 cascaded carriages to lengthen existing trains. In total 188 new and cascaded carriages will be deployed to increase capacity into London Liverpool Street.

The first two phases of additional capacity on London Midland services have been agreed. These involve the deployment of 28 cascaded carriages to lengthen trains and also to operate more trains between Watford and London Euston during peak periods. The third phase of the additional capacity for London Midland services is now being developed with the train operator. This will focus on additional capacity into Birmingham.

Extra capacity provision is included in the recently-announced Southern franchise. This includes additional capacity into London Bridge and London Victoria over the next three years using 128 cascaded carriages.

Arrangements are almost finalised with First Capital Connect for the introduction of 41 carriages onto the services into London. The extra carriages will be introduced over the next 12 months.

Negotiations are underway with First Great Western to provide additional capacity on services around Bristol. This is expected to involve additional cascaded carriages, introduced over the next 12 to 18 months.

Proposals for the provision of additional capacity into London Waterloo are being negotiated with South West Trains.

The provision of additional capacity on the Shrewsbury - Birmingham route is being developed with Arriva Trains Wales.

Plans for additional capacity on the Liverpool—Nottingham route are being developed with East Midlands Trains.

The specification for a first phase of additional capacity on services into Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield has been completed and is now being discussed with Northern Rail and the relevant Passenger Transport Executives. Planning work is also underway with Northern Rail and the Passenger Transport Executives to develop a second phase scheme to address the further capacity requirements for these cities.

The specification for the new Essex Thameside (C2C) franchise in May 2011 will include extra capacity requirements. The proposed specification will be published in early 2010.

The specification for the new Intercity West Coast franchise, due to start in April 2012, will include a requirement to deploy the 106 new Pendolino vehicles on order to increase capacity between London, Birmingham and Manchester.

The current Transpennine Express franchise is due to end in February 2012, and the specification for its replacement will be developed over the next 24 months. This will include the deployment of new electric trains on the Manchester to Central Scotland route, allowing the diesel trains currently operating these services to be used to provide more capacity on the main trans-Pennine route.

Chiltern Railway’s franchise agreement contains provision under Evergreen Phases 2 and 3 for extra capacity requirements to be delivered by 2014. Chiltern Railways has procured additional carriages to achieve this and further plans are now being discussed.