The number of passengers using rail across the north of England is set to increase dramatically over the next ten and twenty years, according to a report published by Network Rail.
A rise of up to 52% by 2024 could see hundreds of thousands more people a year arriving at stations in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle at peak times, according to the operator and maintainer of Britain’s rail network.
Network Rail has published the final version of it’s Northern Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) which looks at rail usage over the next ten to thirty years and recommends how best to cope with the extra passengers and freight.
The report, which has been produced in partnership with key stakeholders, makes a series of recommendations for targeted investment in the railways of the north which are needed to cope with the extra passengers, allow rail freight to grow and will support sustainable economic growth.
Paul Plummer, Network Rail’s director of planning and development, said: “Rail in the north continues to be a major success story – but this brings its own challenges, as the RUS sets out. We are already making good progress. Projects already underway like flyovers at Stafford on the West Coast and North Doncaster on the East Coast will mean faster, more frequent trains can run between the Northern cities and London. Electrification in the north west will mean a faster, cleaner and cheaper railway.
“But this RUS shows the challenges don’t stop here. With as many as 52% more passengers flooding into the big cities of the north by 2024, we need to make targeted investments to deal with this, as well as working with stakeholders to make better use of existing capacity.”
Network Rail is proposing a number of schemes to help meet this demand, including:
Further peak train lengthening or shuttle services to make the most efficient use of capacity.
The Northern Hub – which would allow 3.5 million more passengers to travel across the North every year, funding for the first part of the Northern Hub portfolio was confirmed in the budget announcement in March 2011.
New platforms at Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Airport stations.
Upgrading the railway between Immingham, Scunthorpe and Knottingley to support anticipated freight growth.
The RUS also endorses the on-going rolling programme of electrification examined in the Network RUS: Electrification Strategy