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Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) - Latest plans & speculation

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59CosG95

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From New Civil Engineer:
Northern leaders have agreed initial route preferences and a phasing plan for the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) scheme following a Transport for the North (TfN) meeting yesterday.
The NPR network will be formally agreed by the TfN board in January 2021 and will then go forward for consideration by government in a Strategic Outline Case in March.

Elected mayors, council and business leaders have recommended the government commits to the project - a network of new and significantly upgraded rail lines for the North of England.

They say securing funding and commitment is a critical component of the government’s desire to ‘level up’ economic performance of the North with the rest of the country.

The network spans from Liverpool to Hull, Sheffield and the North East, and would begin construction in 2024/5. It also links fully with HS2, with shared track, stations and junctions in parts.

NPR director Tim Wood said it is a “significant moment” for the scheme.


“We have an initial preferred way forward for a rail network that will deliver thousands of jobs, cut carbon emissions and slash journey times between the North’s towns, cities and beyond,” he said.

“With the need to build back better following the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery of long-term, job-creating infrastructure projects like NPR need to be a critical component of the agenda. The preferred network would be transformational for the North’s economy and allow Northern workers access to enhanced opportunities through a wider jobs market.

“We’ll now enter discussions with government and look at ways in which the number of remaining options can be further shortlisted and delivery accelerated for the sake of the North’s communities and future.”

The proposed NPR network includes:​

  • A new line to be constructed from Liverpool to Manchester via the centre of Warrington
  • A new line to be constructed from Manchester to Leeds via the centre of Bradford
  • Significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield
  • Connecting Sheffield to HS2 and on to Leeds
  • Significant upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull
  • Significant upgrades of the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle (via York and Darlington) and restoration of the Leamside line
The move comes ahead of the publication of the government's Integrated Rail Plan which will set out long-term investment plans for rail upgrades in the North.

Due to be published by the end of this year, the plan is expected to recommend how investment in rail projects like NPR, HS2 Phase 2b, and the TransPennine Route Upgrade will be delivered.
Very interesting indeed - glad to see wiring of Leeds/Sheffield to Hull included too. No wires mentioned for the Hope Valley, sadly.
 
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Senex

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This hit the newspapers yesterday and I've been looking for any reference to a document, but without success. There seems to be no more than a press briefing to go on. They seem to be committed to a new high-speed line via Bradford with a central station ...
 

HSTEd

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This hit the newspapers yesterday and I've been looking for any reference to a document, but without success. There seems to be no more than a press briefing to go on. They seem to be committed to a new high-speed line via Bradford with a central station ...
Right under where that hole in the ground was for years?

The crayonistas would love that....
 

Ianno87

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Sounds good but so many documents and at the moment so little action anywhere.

Always a good idea to plan what you want to do before building it. That requires "documents", however boring as they may be.
 
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A diagrammatic map has appeared - not sure what is going on in the Leeds area.

https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Emerging-vision-HIGH.jpg

https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/tfn-maps-out-full-rail-vision/

The region’s transport body has detailed its preferred route for the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail project, including a line from Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington, and urged the Government to back the plans.

Construction of the line could begin in 2024 subject to Whitehall approval, according to Transport for the North.

The proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail network, aimed at boosting east-to-west connectivity in the north of England, would link up Liverpool, Hull, Sheffield and the North East.

It would also dovetail with High Speed 2, with shared track, stations and junctions in parts, to slash journey times between the cities of the North.

TfN’s detailed proposals include:

  • Construction of a line from Liverpool to Manchester via the centre of Warrington
  • Construction of a line from Manchester to Leeds via the centre of Bradford
  • Significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield
  • Connecting Sheffield to HS2 and on to Leeds
  • Upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull
  • Upgrades of the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle, via York and Darlington, and restoration of the Leamside line
The proposals have been sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps and further discussions are expected in January before the transport body lodges a formal business case for the project next March.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The map doesn't help at all with route definition.
Putting central Warrington on it means an M56 or M62 route can't be on the agenda, without a huge and slow dog-leg.
Maybe they will upgrade the CLC route and then via an HS2 connection at Rixton and over the MSC to Rostherne and Manchester Airport.
What a pity the "straight" route through Warrington was demolished and redeveloped!
Using the CLC would still need a lot of work around Allerton to get a clean route into Lime St.
Central Bradford would have to be new construction, and not use any of the Standedge route just about to be upgraded.
 

Greybeard33

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This hit the newspapers yesterday and I've been looking for any reference to a document, but without success. There seems to be no more than a press briefing to go on.
Yes, the press stories appear to be based on a TfN press release:
Following a Transport for the North meeting, elected mayors, council and business leaders have recommended the Government commits to Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) – a network of new and significantly upgraded rail lines for the North of England – including their initial route preferences.
They say securing funding and commitment for the project is a critical component of the Government’s desire to ‘level up’ economic performance of the North with the rest of the country.
This was issued following the TfN Board meeting yesterday (19 November). The press and public were excluded from that meeting during discussion of the NPR agenda item.

This appears to be essentially a political announcement to put pressure on central government. No new details of the proposed routes.
 

a_c_skinner

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That requires "documents", however boring as they may be.
The purpose of the documents is to prove your last planning exercise produced something but to be easily discardable so that you can justify another planning exercise thereby giving the illusion of progress without spending the fortune that actual improvements would need.
 

Chris NS

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It's difficult to tell what is restatement of old announcement and what's new, but the detail I've noticed is that reinstatement of the Leamside Line has moved from "We're considering this" to "We want this".

Other than that, I still wish they'd give us more details on what they have in mind.
 

WatcherZero

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Lime Street expansion would be similar to Euston, but rather than tunnelling they just need to widen the last 200m of the cutting to increase acommodatable size from 265m to 400m.
 

Purple Orange

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What if Lime Street was expanded, but not for accommodation 400m trains? How well would that be received? If Piccadilly was just 200m, would it not be an issue?
 

YorksLad12

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At a guess, the purple curve connecting to the (2) is the existing Midland route via Woodlesford, which will be crossed at some point by the HS2 route (HS2b eastern leg, or HS2E as I like to think of it).

In my experience, TfN is very good at planning; less good at delivering, since it has no funding to speak of. And with Barry White stepping down next year they will be on their third Chief Executive in six years.
 

Jonny

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I see they are mentioning the Leamside Line; it will be interesting to see what they do with that one since, while it would be very nice to see it open again, at least the approaches are to the Victoria Viaduct (between Washington and Penshaw) are sharply curved and anything routed to Newcastle from it will need to go through Heworth Station (the one in Tyne and Wear) which then has a relatively slow approach to Newcastle and then the choice of either the weight-limited High Level Bridge or a single-lead junction. Also you would need an additional curve or a run-around for access to Tyne Dock.
 

Bevan Price

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Lime Street expansion would be similar to Euston, but rather than tunnelling they just need to widen the last 200m of the cutting to increase acommodatable size from 265m to 400m.

Probably impossible, and unaffordable. Plus - apart from anything else, all lines into Lime Street would need to be closed for several years whilst excavations proceeded.
 

WatcherZero

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Excavating 200m of rockface by a few meters happens everyday in quarries, its far from unaffordable and could be done with a few long weekend closures for rock blasting or rock grinding then the rest of the work could be done while the line was still open. Euston hasnt shut while its far more expansive work has been going on.

As Liverpool rock is sandstone an alternative longer but less disruptive method would be water cutting.
 

Ianno87

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Excavating 200m of rockface by a few meters happens everyday in quarries, its far from unaffordable and could be done with a few long weekend closures for rock blasting or rock grinding then the rest of the work could be done while the line was still open. Euston hasnt shut while its far more expansive work has been going on.

As Liverpool rock is sandstone an alternative longer but less disruptive method would be water cutting.

Quarries generally aren't located in city centres....

And it will be far more than "a few metres" of widening to get an extra 100+ metres of platform in, plus a throat.
 

daodao

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Can this discussion be moved in to the "Speculative ideas" section? The TfN crayonistas with their grandiose schemes don't have the power or funding to implement what they are proposing. The economic case for high speed links is poor as the major population centres of the north of England are fairly close to each other geographically and are no longer the economic hubs that they were in the heyday of the industrial revolution.

By contrast, HS2, while some may consider it profligate, will provide a fast link with England's most important economic centre, which is sited some distance from the places HS2 intends to serve; it does have government funding and backing and is (or at least the first part of it) approved and being built.
 

swt_passenger

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I see they are mentioning the Leamside Line; it will be interesting to see what they do with that one since, while it would be very nice to see it open again, at least the approaches are to the Victoria Viaduct (between Washington and Penshaw) are sharply curved and anything routed to Newcastle from it will need to go through Heworth Station (the one in Tyne and Wear) which then has a relatively slow approach to Newcastle and then the choice of either the weight-limited High Level Bridge or a single-lead junction. Also you would need an additional curve or a run-around for access to Tyne Dock.
As has been discussed in a few other recent threads, there never seems to be any “meat on the bones” regarding Leamside - what I mean is that for all the general support for reopening, no one ever provides details of useful services. As you say it’s of little use for freight, much of which is aiming for Tyne Yard - which can’t be reached without conflicts unless further work is done at Bensham, (which NR seem to have gone quiet about). Not much use for freight to Tyne Dock without reinstating a flat crossing, or a new curve as you suggest. Doesn’t seem to work very well as a fast bypass for passenger trains to avoid Durham. There are no existing local stoppers to divert that way, but wouldn’t you want a local service to 8nclude Durham anyway? The only logical way of using it as a Metro extension would require a reduction in service to the two existing routes.
 
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The Planner

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Excavating 200m of rockface by a few meters happens everyday in quarries, its far from unaffordable and could be done with a few long weekend closures for rock blasting or rock grinding then the rest of the work could be done while the line was still open. Euston hasnt shut while its far more expansive work has been going on.

As Liverpool rock is sandstone an alternative longer but less disruptive method would be water cutting.
Just how much do you think could be done in a 76 hour weekend? considering taking the block, getting the equipment in, getting the rock out, making sure everything was stable and then opening the railway back up again? Bear in mind we have about 7 bank holidays a year. You would be looking at going out as far as Gt Newton St to get 400m and a throat in.
 

Bald Rick

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Euston hasnt shut while its far more expansive work has been going on.

Parts of it have though, permanently. And more will be shutting, long term, next year. And there have been a number of all line closures. And none of it has been for quarrying activity!
 

HSTEd

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Given modern equipment, it would probably be cheaper to dig an adjacent tunnel than try to quarry out rock next to an operational line.
 

Chris NS

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As has been discussed in a few other recent threads, there never seems to be any “meat on the bones” regarding Leamside - what I mean is that for all the general support for reopening, no one ever provides details of useful services. As you say it’s of little use for freight, much of which is aiming for Tyne Yard - which can’t be reached without conflicts unless further work is done at Bensham, (which NR seem to have gone quiet about). Not much use for freight to Tyne Dock without reinstating a flat crossing, or a new curve as you suggest. Doesn’t seem to work very well as a fast bypass for passenger trains to avoid Durham. There are no existing local stoppers to divert that way, but wouldn’t you want a local service to 8nclude Durham anyway? The only logical way of using it as a Metro extension would require a reduction in service to the two existing routes.
I can't remember where I read this, but I believe the current thinking behind the Leamside Line is to leave existing passenger services alone and use this for freight (so that the fast lines between York and Newcastle can be used for passenger services and nothing else). There are options to also use this for new local passenger services, either T&W Metro or National Rail, which hopefully could be fit in with freight.

But, as far as I can tell, the option of diverting long-distance services on to the Leamside Line has got nowhere.
 

WatcherZero

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Given modern equipment, it would probably be cheaper to dig an adjacent tunnel than try to quarry out rock next to an operational line.

Yes, what people are thinking is you have to work purely inside out and not considering that you can work downwards or outside in at the same time, or overestimating the difficulty in cutting sandstone.

But the tunnel and entire length of cutting and the wapping tunnel were completed in just three years in the early 19th century, the tunnel between 1826 and 1829 and the cutting between 1827 and 1830 simply using picks and blasting. Then in 1870 the two mile cutting and station throat was widened from two to four tracks in only a year.
 

Ianno87

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Yes, what people are thinking is you have to work purely outside in and not considering that you can work downwards or outside in at the same time, or overestimating the difficulty in cutting sandstone.

But the tunnel and entire length of cutting and the wapping tunnel were completed in just three years in the early 19th century, the tunnel between 1826 and 1829 and the cutting between 1827 and 1830 simply using picks and blasting. Then in 1870 the two mile cutting and station throat was widened from two to four tracks in only a year.

And how many people died during those construction works?
 

WatcherZero

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I dont know, do you?

By 1854 two hundred and eighty four people per year were dying on the nations railways, around 80% of them in train collisions and around 10 in construction. I would hazard fewer people died in their construction than their operation.
 
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