London to Sheffield route should be electrified says Network Rail

A plan to expand the electrified network that would increase capacity, improve journeys while reducing costs and carbon emissions was unveiled today following a year-long study by Network Rail.

The study concludes that the electrification of the Midland main line - the main route from London St Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield - has an extremely attractive business case and could, over the course of 60 years, pay for itself with the savings made from cheaper running costs and maintenance outweighing the initial investment to electrify the route.

Network Rail’s chief executive Iain Coucher said: “Passengers would see enormous benefits from further electrification with faster, quieter, smoother, greener journeys. 

“The case for the Midland Main Line is extremely strong.  Affordability and bringing down the cost of such projects are key if they’re to get the green-light.”

The benefits of electric train over diesel are huge:

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  * 50% cheaper to run electric trains over diesel equivalents
  * 33% cheaper to maintain
  * Electric trains are 90% more reliable (21k miles per break-down compared to 11k on average for diesels)
  * Electrification can pay for itself with cost savings outweighing the up-front investment
  * Up to 30% less CO2

In July, Network Rail secured the go-ahead for schemes to electrify routes between London and Swansea and Liverpool and Manchester, and the company is now working on methods to install power lines over the next five years or so, efficiently and to cost while keeping disruption to a minimum.

While confirming the business case for electrifying the Great Western main line to Swansea, the RUS also identified a scheme to electrify the Midland main line as being cost effective. These options, along with two strategic infill schemes for London as well as the Liverpool to Manchester line form part of a core strategy for England.  Further infill schemes are recommended but should be prioritised in tandem with a passenger rolling stock replacement strategy to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs.

The publication of the study - the network-wide route utilisation strategy (RUS) on electrification - follows extensive consultation. The strategy forms part of a long-term plan being drawn up by Network Rail in conjunction with the industry partners to meet rising demand for passenger and freight services.