Government scraps electrification in favour of bi-modes

By Ben Jones

AS WAS widely feared in the regions affected, the Department for Transport (DfT) has cancelled projects to electrify the Midland Main Line between Kettering and Nottingham/Sheffield, the South Wales Main Line between Cardiff and Swansea and the Oxenholme-Windermere branch. Trans-Pennine electrification from Manchester to Leeds may also be affected by the decision with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling hinting that difficult or expensive sections of the scheme may be omitted.

DfT claims that bi-mode trains will be able to deliver all the benefits of new trains to passengers more quickly “without the disruption of electrification work”. However, critics were quick to point out that bi-mode trains are more complex and expensive to build and maintain, less reliable than electrics, and have so far proved more sluggish on diesel power than the trains they will replace.

Delays and significant cost over-runs on Network Rail’s Great Western Route Modernisation, resulting in several gaps in the OHLE being left to save money, are thought to be behind the DfT decision.

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