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Yorkshire’s first new electric railway in 25 years

In July, the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) East Alliance installed the first miles of new electric overhead wires on a mainline in Yorkshire for over 25 years, marking a step-change in progress for the multi-billion-pound Transpennine Route Upgrade.

Yorkshire’s first new electric railway in 25 years

TRU is a transformative, multi-billion pound railway programme that will improve connectivity in the North and support economic growth.

This monumental scheme – initially working its way from York to Church Fenton – is set to re-energise train travel for passengers across the north of England. It is the first step towards a cleaner, greener, fully electrified railway between York, Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester.

Rob McIntosh, managing director for Network Rail’s Eastern Region, said: “This is a huge moment for the Transpennine Route Upgrade and really represents the forward shift we’ve seen in recent months. This first major milestone in York promises a cleaner, greener future where passengers in the north of England can confidently rely on the railway to get them to where they need to be in good time.”

The TRU East Alliance, comprising Network Rail, VolkerRail, J. Murphy & Sons and Siemens, is delivering the infrastructure improvements on the eastern part of the route between York and Leeds. These upgrades will deliver a high-performing, reliable railway for passengers, with more trains and improved journey times.

The section of work completed in July was the first of ten miles of electric wiring set to be installed between Church Fenton and Colton Junction – where trains from Leeds join the East Coast Main Line towards York – by the end of the year. It is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the north, with over 100 trains passing through each day.

When the new wires are energised, they will allow more environmentally friendly hybrid trains to run at speeds of up to 125mph; 30mph faster than the line’s current speed.

To maintain an equally eco-friendly construction, the new equipment was built at the Alliance’s brand-new construction hub - the Joseph Lynn Logistics Hub - in Sherburn-in-Elmet, before being transported to site by train.

The TRUe Alliance began work on the York to Church Fenton electrification scheme in October 2021, and at the end of July 2022, had delivered:

  • 32km of new overhead line
  • 270 new steel masts, which carry the overhead electric wires
  • 24 kilometres of new, more reliable track, ready to run faster trains
  • An innovative 65 metre wide under track crossing.

The new hub allows the Alliance to prefabricate track panels and overhead line equipment on site, which are then transported to site by trains, via the hub’s 400m rail head, running off the main network, to allow engineering trains in and out of the facility.

When complete, across the full 76-mile route, rail passengers will be helping to save up to 87,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year – equivalent to 5.9 million car journeys along the same route. For people living near the railway, it will also mean better air quality and quieter trains.

Commenting on the Alliance’s achievements, James Ramsden, TRU East Alliance delivery lead said: “The collaborative effort of all parties involved has allowed us to take this major step forward in electrifying this section of the network. Our teams continue at pace, to bring this part of the Yorkshire mainline up to date, allowing Network Rail and the region’s train operating companies the opportunity to provide local communities with a better quality and more environmentally-friendly service.”

To watch the new electric overhead wires being installed overnight, click here.

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