Electrified lines, but diesel trains
Reporter: Alan Salter
Date published: 27 January 2010
BOLD plans to electrify some of Greater Manchester’s most important railway lines will be wasted with old diesel trains running on the upgraded tracks for years, experts warn.
The Government has announced £500 million worth of work to electrify lines between Manchester and Liverpool, Bolton, Preston, Blackpool and Wigan — and cancelled proposals to build new diesels.
But the work will be finished well before there are any more electric trains in the region to run on them.
Greater Manchester is promised refurbished electric rolling stock freed up by new trains being built for London’s Thameslink route.
The first part of the historic Manchester to Liverpool Chat Moss line should be ready in 2012, with the whole route electrified by the following year.
But Thameslink is not due to open until 2013, leaving no time to refurbish the unwanted London trains.
Stockport councillor Craig Wright, a member of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA), said: “The chance of the Thameslink trains being ready in time for the Chat Moss line is virtually nil and I can see us running diesel Pacers for the next 15 years.”
Authority official Mike Renshaw said: “We recognise this problem and we have raised it with the Department for Transport and the train operators.
“The DfT has sought to assure us that they have taken account of that, though we have not seen any details.”
He said that the second phase of electrification between Manchester and Bolton and between Preston and Blackpool will complicate the rolling stock problem even more.
There are also calls to extend the electrification of lines so a route that passes through Oldham is included.
Experts point out that the whole of Victoria Station will be electrified to take the services and it would make sense to electrify the line east to Stalybridge — which goes on to Greenfield — to link electric TransPennine Express services.
Crompton councillor John Dillon, a GMITA member, said: “We need to press for electrification of the gaps. Newton Heath depot should be connected to the power lines at Victoria.”