Yorkshire’s new electric railway set to cut carbon and journey times

The first miles of new electric overhead wires on a mainline in Yorkshire for over 25 years are now up, marking a step-change in progress for the multi-billion-pound Transpennine Route Upgrade.

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’s the first step towards a cleaner, greener, fully electrified railway between York, Leeds, Huddersfield, and Manchester.

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.

It’s the first of 10 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’s one of the busiest stretches of railway in the north, with over 100 trains passing through each day.

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.”

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: “Thanks to our £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan, the biggest single investment in the UK’s rail network ever, we’re now delivering faster, cleaner and more frequent travel for passengers across the North.

“As we level up the country, it’s critical that people across the UK have access to rail networks they can rely on. Yorkshire’s new electric railway is a key step in delivering just that.”

Work began on the York to Church Fenton electrification scheme in October 2019, and to date has delivered: 17 kilometres of new, more reliable track, ready to run faster trains; an innovative 65-metre-wide under-track crossing; and 270 new steel masts, which carry the overhead electric wires.

When the new wires are energised, they will allow more environmentally friendly hybrid trains to run along this section at speeds of up to 125mph – that’s 30mph faster than they currently run.

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

Image credit: Network Rail

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