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Proposed railway electrification in Great Britain

2012 Department for Transport plans for UK rail electrification by 2019 including Northern Hub (red), Electric Spine (yellow/green), Great Western Main Line and South Wales Main Line (red) and Valleys & Cardiff Local Routes (blue). For 'HLOS', see Network Rail > Control periods.

Proposed railway electrification in Great Britain. In 2009, Lord Adonis was appointed Secretary of State for Transport. After a gap of more than a decade, electrification was back on the agenda and Adonis announced plans to electrify the Great Western Main Line from London as far as Swansea, as well as infill electrification schemes in the North West of England.

In July 2012 the UK government announced £4.2 billion of new electrification schemes, all at 25 kV AC and reconfirmed schemes previously announced by Adonis. These were to be Northern Hub, Great Western Main Line, South Wales Main Line, Midland Main Line, Electric Spine, Crossrail, Gospel Oak to Barking Line and West Midlands suburban lines including the Cross-City Line.

Rail transport in Scotland is a devolved matter for the Scottish Government, but they too have pursued electrification with multiple schemes in the Central Belt. All these have been 25 kV AC also as in England and Wales. Electrification has not been without controversy with cancellations and various appearances of the Secretary of State for Transport called before the Transport Select Committee. [1].

A written question was submitted and answered in parliament regarding route miles electrified in the years 1997-2019[2].

In March 2019 the Railway Industry Association published a paper on Electrification cost challenge suggesting ways forward and a rolling program of electrification[3].


Existing routesEdit

Proposed routesEdit

Northern HubEdit

As part of the Northern Hub project, the following lines in North West England and Yorkshire are to be electrified:

  • Liverpool to Manchester Line: Manchester to Newton-le-Willows completed December 2013; to Liverpool, planned by December 2014 but actually February 2015.[4][5]
  • Liverpool to Wigan Line, planned by December 2014 but actually March 2015.[6]
  • Manchester to Preston (via Bolton) by December 2017 and Preston to Blackpool North: by May 2018.[4][7][8] An October 2017 update says the Manchester - Preston section will now be after Dec 2017 [9] . As of August 2018 the work was still in progress. When complete this will provide an electrified route from Blackpool to the West Coast Main Line at Preston and then on to Manchester diverging from the West Coast Main Line at Euxton Jct. Originally, Preston - Blackpool was to be done before Manchester - Preston, but Network Rail said Preston - Blackpool needed to have new signaling and the opportunity was also taken to completely remodel Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham station and other remodeling improvements at Salwick and Poulton-le-Fylde. The scheme was to have followed with a new completion date of March 2018. Further delays ensued and a powered electric train (a Virgin Pendolino) finally carried out multiple test runs overnight on 14-15 May 2018, a few days after energisation. Similarly, in the early hours of December 13th 2018, a Virgin Pendolino ran test runs between Preston and Manchester Piccadilly shortly after energisation.
  • Bolton to Wigan North Western As a spin-off, in December 2013 it was announced that the branch from Bolton to Wigan North Western would also be electrified by 2017.[10] However, the enhancements delivery plan update of September 2016 moved the completion date with only GRIP 3 being completed by then.[11]
  • The North TransPennine route, comprising the Huddersfield Line between Manchester Victoria and York via Huddersfield and Leeds: expected by 2022.[12]
    • As an extension of this the Hull to Selby Line was going to follow: Hull Trains planned to electrify the line between Temple Hirst Junction on the East Coast Main Line south of Selby and Hull using private finance. This moved closer to reality on 20 March 2014 when Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin confirmed in the House of Commons that he had made £2.4m available to move the project to the next stage of development, GRIP Stage 3.[13] This scheme was to have joined the already planned transpennine electrification (part of the Northern Hub project) at Selby. In November 2016 this project was shelved indefinitely.[14][15]

Great Western Main Line and South Wales Main LineEdit

  • The electrification of the GWML to Thingley Junction (near Chippenham) and the SWML via Bristol Parkway to Cardiff Central is the main priority, due for completion in December 2018.[16][17] Electrification from Reading to Newbury will also follow the originally intended schedule for completion in 2018.[17] Other initially planned associated electrification works have been delayed with no published completion date: these include the Thames Valley branch lines, the lines to Bristol Temple Meads (both via Bristol Parkway and Bath), the line from Cardiff Central to Swansea, and the line from Didcot to Oxford.[17][16] On 20 July 2017, it was announced that the Cardiff-Swansea electrification project had been cancelled and that bi-mode trains would be used on the route.[18]
  • As a spin-off, the Valleys & Cardiff Local Routes will be electrified once the main route is complete.[19]


New cross-London main line, originally due to open in December 2018. Opening has been delayed until 2020.

Gospel Oak to Barking LineEdit

  • Electrification announced July 2013.[20] Major civil engineering with line closures started July 2016. Full in-service date was expected to be 30 June 2017.[11] However, design errors and the late delivery of materials and structures meant that the project was delayed. The start of electric services was to be in May 2018[21][22]. However TfL has since stated the new trains will start in November 2018.[23] The introduction has now been delayed yet again and has changed to a date sometime during 2019.

West Midlands suburban linesEdit

Extensions to the existing West Midlands suburban electrification:

Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP)Edit

This electrification scheme and associated works has come to mean Edinburgh-Glasgow via Falkirk High and was due to be completed by December 2016. The rolling programme would then follow with the route via Shotts. The scheme via Carstairs in association with the ECML electrification was completed in the early 1990s. With other infills in the central belt of Scotland there will soon be 4 different electrified routes between the two cities with assorted diversionary routes.[30]

The December 2016 date was not met and in May 2017 a further delay to the wires going live was announced due to a safety-critical component possibly for the whole route needing to be replaced.[31] .

It was actually completed in December 2017[32].

The infills include the route from Cumbernauld and Falkirk Grahamston to Larbert, Alloa, Dunblane and Stirling.

Cancellations & DelaysEdit

On 25 June 2015 the government announced that some of the electrification projects would be delayed or cut back because of rising costs. Electrification work was to be "paused" on the Trans-Pennine route between York and Manchester and on the Midland main line between Bedford and Sheffield. Electrification of the Great Western main line would go ahead but the status of the Reading-Newbury and Didcot-Oxford sections was unclear.[33]

However, in September 2015, the electrification work was "un-paused", but with a delayed completion date.[34] Since then there have been regular updates including one published in October 2016.[11]

On 20 July 2017 Chris Grayling the Secretary of State for Transport cancelled a number of electrification projects citing disruptive works and use of bi-mode technology as an alternative.[35] In June 2018, The Transport Select Committee published its report into various matters including regional investment disparity on the railways and calling again for the reinstatement of various cancelled electrification schemes.

Great Western LineEdit

  • Great Western Line: On 8 November 2016, Transport Minister Paul Maynard announced that several parts of the Great Western electrification project were being deferred 'until further notice': these include the line between Didcot and Oxford, Henley and Marlow branch lines, the routes to Bristol Temple Meads, and the line between Swansea and Cardiff, in Wales.[36][16][17]

Midland Main LineEdit

Bridges over the Midland Main Line in Bedfordshire have been replaced to allow greater clearances for electrification and larger rolling stock. Before (top) and after (bottom) the 2014 upgrade.
  • Already electrified to Bedford. This was to be extended to Corby, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. In November 2016 only the electrification to Kettering and Corby was confirmed as continuing with the DfT refusing to be drawn on dates for the remaining parts of the original scheme[37][38]. On 20 July 2017, it was announced that the Kettering-Nottingham-Sheffield electrification project had been cancelled and that bi-mode trains would be used on the route.[39]

However in March 2019, it was announced by Department for Transport that the line between Kettering and Market Harborough would be electrified.[40]

Windermere branch lineEdit

  • Windermere Branch Line: In August 2013, the Department for Transport announced that the branch line between Oxenholme and Windermere was to be electrified by 2016.[41] The Hendy review moved the completion of GRIP 3 to March 2017 with a yet to be determined date for completion of electrification. In July 2017 Chris Grayling the Secretary of State for Transport announced the scheme had been cancelled and bi-mode technology would be used. [42]

Electric SpineEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Transport Select Committee Report June 2018" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Railways: Electrification:Written question - 219526". UK Parliament. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Electrification Cost Challenge Report". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b North West Electrification, Network Rail. Accessed 16 July 2012
  5. ^ "Rail Electrification - July 2009" (PDF). p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 April 2010.
  6. ^ Network Rail
  7. ^ "Electrification in the North". Network Rail.
  8. ^ "North-West Electrification". Network Rail.
  9. ^ https://www.greatermanchester-ca.go...d/2510/item_06_local_rail_service_performance
  10. ^ "New boost for railway electrification schemes". RailNews. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Midland Main Line electrification unpaused – but delayed by years".
  13. ^ "First Hull Trains welcomes £2.4m Government pledge to electrify train lines from Hull to Selby". First Hull Trains. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c "Great Western electrification: Intercity line work 'deferred'". BBC News. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d "Subscribe to read". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Rail electrification to Swansea and south Wales valleys welcomed". BBC News. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  20. ^ "Disbelief after six-year Barking to Gospel Oak Overground campaign comes to successful end, but questions still to answer". This Is Local London. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  21. ^ "UK railway news round-up". Railway Gazette. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  22. ^ "Gospel Oak to Barking electrification". Network Rail. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ "Bromsgrove Rail Station and Interchange". CENTRO. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  25. ^ Darlington, Paul (17 January 2017). "Bromsgrove Corridor resignalling". Rail Engineer. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^ "Work is underway to electrify the Chase Line". Network Rail. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ "First electric trains to run on Edinburgh-Glasgow main line on Sunday". Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  33. ^ "Network Rail upgrade delayed by government". BBC News. 25 June 2015.
  34. ^ "Midland Main Line electrification unpaused – but delayed by years".
  35. ^
  36. ^ Rail electrification delayed but passengers told there will be new trains with more seats  – Oxford Times, 8 November 2016
  37. ^ "Midland Main Line Electrification - Hansard". Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  38. ^ Switchboard 0300 330 3000, Media enquiries 020 7944 3021 Out of hours media enquiries 020 7944 4292. "TransPennine and Midland Mainline electrification works to resume". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  39. ^
  40. ^ [3]
  41. ^ "DfT Unveils Lakes Electrification Plans" Railnews news article 09-08-2013; Retrieved 2014-03-13
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Electrification programme central to UK government's £9·4bn rail strategy". Railway Gazette. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2014.