Monday, 16 July 2012

No electrification for Hull

Today the government has produced a 'High Level Output Statement' for the railways. The big picture is good news with lots of investment. However it's not good news for the Humber region.

Last year I wrote about the case for electrification of the Leeds (well Micklefield Junction) to Hull rail line, and how it could impact on the Transpennine Express service between Hull, Leeds and Manchester. Today we find out full electrification isn't going to happen. Selby will get electrification, but that is it - no wires to Hull:

"The Secretary of State seeks electrification of the route between Micklefield and Selby with appropriate links to the East Coast Main Line."

Good news for Selby, and it does provide a second electrified route into Leeds from the East Coast Main Line.

Thankfully Hull and Brough aren't getting totally shafted in the resulting changes to service patterns (unlike Middlesborough). Links to Manchester Piccadilly remain, but will be on a semi-fast rather than fast basis between Leeds and Manchester. This probably won't impact too much on journey times, but it is a downgrade. Hull will leave the core Transpennine network - and won't be getting a link to Manchester Airport any time soon. The Humber LEP describe the situation well on twitter:

"Looks like no electrification to Hull before 2019. Disappointing, bad news for connectivity"
If one positive can be taken, it is that the future case to be made for electrification to Hull will cover a smaller section of route, and therefore potentially be cheaper, and less disruptive. But it won't be hapenning any time soon. Disappointing indeed.


David Barrett said...

I can not quite agree with you on Hull as it seems that, as far as Trans Pennine services are concerned it will be very much a case of neither gains or losses but Middlesborough, as you point out, unfortunately seems to be missing out altogther with no mention of local service enhancements in the HLOS to compensate for the T.P. diversion to Newcastle. If anywhere locally will be removed from the core Trans Pennine group it will be Scarborough for whilst Selby gains an hourly electric semi-fast from Manchester, Scarborough's services will be diverted via the Calder Valley and East Lancashire to Blackpool. Also there was no mention of South Trans Pennine in the HLOS but tucked away there was reference to bay platforms at Doncaster. Whilst I don't wish to be too negative this did make me wonder whether the splitting of services from South Humberside at Doncaster is being actively persued again as was the case some years back. The real solution to this would be grade seperation North of Doncaster and a new island platform but I figure that this would be costly and perhaps impossible because of the road overbridges at this location although a large part of this might already exist in the form of the Avoiding Line. Another aspect which I believe doesn't bode too well for services from Lincolnshire is the continuing presence of Newark Flat Crossing which surely would do much for capacity on both the ECML and Lincoln to Nottingham Line if replaced by a flyover even if only single line.

Humber Transport said...

Hull to Manchester services currently call only at Huddersfield between Leeds and Manchester. The future semi fast service will probably include Dewsbury and Stalybridge stops as well. A slight downgrade, but a downgrade

As for Doncaster, the recent East Coast franchise consultation did mention Cleethorpes-Doncaster, not Cleethorpes-Manchester Airport, as an associated service for possible transfer to East Coast. Something that would not at all be welcome, unless a frequent London service was the 'replacement' for Manchester links. Something that needs to be 'watched out for'

David Barrett said...

It could be that with line speed improvements the overall journey time between Hull and Manchester is no more than it is now even with extra stops, but I would like to see some assurances on passenger use and overcrowding.

I agree that the future for the South Trans Pennine service is less than secure at the moment and if the East Coast operation is expanded to include other routes it is difficult to envisage how what would become a remote part of the franchise (ie. between Doncaster and Manchester) could be economically operated; rolling stock provision, train crews etc. I have a feeling that minds have already been made up on this one regardless of the forthcoming franchise provisions and that for the passengers of South Humberside a change of trains will be necessary at Doncaster in more cases than at present. Likewise, in the East Coast consultation Both Scarborough to York and Middlesborough to York have been mentioned in isolation although Trans Pennine Electrification seems to have played a deciding part in their ultimate destiny.