Lord Adonis, today, put more substance behind the pre-budget statement that seemed to cover electrification of only Manchester – Preston. It now includes Blackpool, which makes more sense. His statement reads:
”The first line is between Huyton – on the line running from Liverpool to Manchester – and Wigan, on the already electrified West Coast Main Line. This will allow electric trains to operate between Liverpool and Wigan via St Helens. The second line is between Manchester and Euxton Junction – just south of Preston on the West Coast Main Line. This will allow electric trains to operate between Manchester and Preston, via Bolton. The third line is between Blackpool North and Preston. This will allow electric trains to operate between Blackpool North and both Liverpool and Manchester.
Our plans envisage that, once electrified, these three lines will be served by thoroughly refurbished electric commuter trains transferred from the Thameslink line. This will increase rail capacity and reliability between key cities and towns in the North West. It will allow 30 year old ‘Pacer’ diesel trains to be retired, and modern diesel trains to be transferred to other routes requiring extra capacity. It will also help to reduce the long-term cost of operating the railway, and reduce carbon emissions.’
Gordon Brown has said he thought the north didn’t get it’s share of infrastructure projects and that this will help against the recession. I’d agree with that. Although the line will still have some non-electrified gaps such as the trains to Buxton and to Manchester Airport. There are also a number of trains that go on the route via Lytham although in general they go to Blackburn. It is a complicated business and a start is needed somewhere.
There is also a timescale to be attached. The closest is that Lord Adonis said a percentage of trains would be electrified by 2017. This doesn’t put a timescale on the Manchester – Preston or Preston – Blackpool work. If cost – benefit is involved it might not happen as the link to Wigan will allow both Manchester and Liverpool to connect to the northbound main line which will reduce the advantages of the work on the route through Bolton to Preston.
If this all happens in a good timescale it is good news. There is part of me saying it has a strong probability of falling to the cuts that are surely going to come who-ever gets into power after the election. Presumably the more you spend more you need to cut, in my world anyway.