12 Jan 2010

Electrification plans only scratch surface

Britain has one of the lowest percentages of electrified line in Europe. It comes after Macedonia and before the Czech Republic. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because lines with light traffic should not be electrified, but some of the busiest lines in Britain are not, such as London to Bristol.

The latter is one of the routes to, which last summer, the government gave the go-ahead for electrification. The plan is for electrification of the lines from London to Oxford, Newbury, Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, and between Liverpool and Manchester. But this only scratches the surface of what needs to be done. There is a long list of lines where electrification would fill in gaps and provide network benefits. These include (in no particular order of priority)
  • Gospel Oak - Barking
  • Ashford - Hastings
  • Lewes - Hurst Green
  • Reading - Basingstoke
  • Basingstoke - Salisbury and possibly Yeovil Junction and Exeter
  • Oxford - Birmingham
  • Leamington - Coventry
  • Marylebone - Banbury
  • Amersham - Aylesbury
  • Leeds - Skipton - Carlisle
  • Manchester - Sheffield via Hope Valley
  • Manchester - Blackburn - Burnley - Halifax - Leeds
  • Manchester - Leeds
  • Sheffield - Leeds
  • Lincoln - Nottingham
  • Bedford - Derby - Sheffield
  • Matlock - Manchester
  • Buxton - Stockport
  • Leeds - York
  • Bristol - Birmingham
  • Birmingham - Shrewsbury
  • Oxford - Bletchley - Bedford - Cambridge
  • Edinburgy - Dundee - Aberdeen
  • Northallerton - Middlesborough and Sunderland
  • Eaglescliffe - Darlington and other main routes in Teeside
  • Glasgow - Perth - Dundee
It is a lot of railway, but most of it consists of connections joining important cities and conurbations. Some of these lines are at present closed. Of course it would be a costly programme, but it would vastly improve the network as a whole. Spread over twenty years or so, is this not better value for money that a couple of high speed lines?

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