THE electrification of the railway line between Manchester and Leeds would be a boost to York’s economy, and now city leaders are pushing for the investment to be continued to York.

Chancellor George Osborne was expected to announce today that the electrification of the Leeds to Manchester line will go ahead as one of 40 key infrastructure projects in a £25 billion investment programme to get Britain’s economy back up and running.

Coun James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said: “The electrification of TransPennine rail link would be welcome news for York’s growing economy. I hope the Autumn Announcement today will include this scheme as one of many which will receive government funding, but I am pushing for electrification from Manchester to York, not just to Leeds. This would bring greater benefits to the north of England with better connections to the North East.”

Susie Cawood, head of York and North Yorkshire Chamber, said any electrification would shorten journey times. She said: “The Chamber has been lobbying for electrification for some time. The Network Rail proposals were for the line to be electrified from Manchester to York, via Leeds, so if that does happen it will shave about 20 minutes off the journey and is absolutely something we would welcome.

“If it improves the connectivity across the Pennines, it’s going to open up markets for those not already doing business over the Pennines and anything that makes York more accessible to the rest of the country has to be welcome.”

Network Rail announced in its Initial Industry Plan, published in September, that electrification of the of the North TransPennine routes, currently operated by First TransPennine Express, was being considered. Details of the final plans are yet to be announced.

A spokesman for First TransPennine Express said: “It would be very good news and would enable train operators to cut journey times and run more services.”

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “Clearly news of further rail investment is great news for passengers and for our supply chain, with tangible benefits for rail users and more jobs being created through the extra work it would create.”

Neil McLean, chairman of the Leeds City Region LEP board, said faster journeys between Leeds and Manchester had to be good for the northern economy as a whole. A 20-minute reduction in journey times is estimated to be worth £6.7 billion to the economy at 2009 prices.

York Press: The Press - Comment

Electrifying hope

CHANCELLOR George Osborne is expected to announce today that the railway line between Leeds and Manchester will be electrified, as part of a £25 billion investment programme designed to boost the economy.

This would undoubtedly reduce travel time from York to Manchester Airport, and would be good news for local businesses and holidaymakers alike.

It would be even better, however, if the electrification were extended as far as York. City of York Council leader James Alexander is calling for exactly that. He has our full backing.

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