Scrapping of Rail Electrification

If I’m going to see things coming a mile off I wish they were lottery numbers and not politically-related things. Once again, something I predicted a while ago has come to fruition, namely the scrapping of rail electrification between Sheffield and London.

Back in February when I was discussing Pacer trains I mused:

“From watching last night’s Look North I understand that these trains may only be a short-term solution in themselves. The much-discussed electrification of the lines in this region would require fresh stock in a few years so, essentially, these trains would be another stopgap. Now, I know that the electrification issue is as hilarious as the promised replacement of the Pacer trains for the last twenty years but, for a moment, let’s take them at their word and accept that the intended electrification will happen.

Why not rush the electrification through as soon as possible then upgrade the stock from then on? At the risk of banging my old drum, let’s prioritise that above wasting money on HS2. If they’re really serious about investing in transport infrastructure in the north then why not?”

I can only assume that the vanity project of HS2 is still more important to the government than sustainable, affordable, useful transport links between the North and South. Network Rail’s spending plans are being curtailed by the fact they now show up on the government balance sheets. Why do ministers still refuse to see what’s staring them in the face? The cost/benefit ratio of HS2 was plunging towards negative figures last time they condescended to give us detail on it. HS2 is going to create a much bigger black hole in the public finances and seemingly won’t have much benefit. Rail electrification, on other hand, has tangible benefits and wouldn’t take forever and a day to complete.

The fact that I saw this coming doesn’t help. In fact, it just irritates me more. We’ve been promised proper electrification for years and we get this mess instead. So much for a ‘Northern Powerhouse’, eh?

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A Replacement for Pacer Trains?

The plan to refit former London Underground trains and sell them to the operators bidding for the northern franchise has caused a little consternation. They’re being offered as a replacement for the Pacer trains that are cramped, cold and were supposed to be a ‘temporary’ solution when they were introduced in the 1980s. These refitted tube trains are allegedly a third cheaper than building new ones, with the shells of the carriages kept and everything else refurbished. The idea is that no one will know these trains were once on the District Line, but it still feels like Yorkshire is inheriting aged rolling stock from London while they can get shiny new trains for their routes.

From watching last night’s Look North I understand that these trains may only be a short-term solution in themselves. The much-discussed electrification of the lines in this region would require fresh stock in a few years so, essentially, these trains would be another stopgap. Now, I know that the electrification issue is as hilarious as the promised replacement of the Pacer trains for the last twenty years but, for a moment, let’s take them at their word and accept that the intended electrification will happen.

Why not rush the electrification through as soon as possible then upgrade the stock from then on? At the risk of banging my old drum, let’s prioritise that above wasting money on HS2. If they’re really serious about investing in transport infrastructure in the north then why not?