Government announces £78 million plan to electrify a section of the North West’s rail network boosting potential for green commuting.

Within hours of Transport for the North’s (TfN) consultation on its Decarbonisation Strategy closing the Government has announced a £78 million plan to electrify a key section of the North West’s rail network between Lostock Junction and Wigan North Western.

Today, the move to greener travel has been welcomed by the sub-national transport authority as a ‘step in the right direction’ as the organisation continues to push for investment in sustainable rail schemes across the Region.

“It’s great news that a commitment has now been made to electrify this key section of the rail network,” said TfN’s Chief Executive, Martin Tugwell, “it may be just one piece in a bigger jigsaw, but it will support sustainable rail in this area of the North West for many years to come.”

The scheme for the electrification of 13 miles of track and the lengthening of a number of platforms builds on the recent electrification of the line from Manchester Victoria to Preston through Bolton. It is part of a wider plan for ‘infill’ projects where additional electrification can be built to connect already electrified routes.

As well as supporting decarbonisation, the project will also potentially give journey time savings, lower operating costs and carbon savings for passenger and any freight services using the route. The is in line with Network Rail’s National Traction Decarbonisation Strategy which lays out a plan of implementing electrification and other technologies to reduce carbon emissions from rail vehicles and specifically to remove all diesel-only rolling stock by 2040.

In welcoming the initiative, Martin said: “We have already made clear that the need to decarbonise our surface transport network is vital in helping to tackle the climate emergency. This is a step towards that, but there remains a huge amount of work to be done – including commitment to projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.”

For Manchester the new rail scheme is a strategically important development as it will assist in decarbonising commuter journeys into and out of the city which already faces severe challenges with road traffic.