Memorandum by Railtrack PLC (in Railway
Administration) (REN 34)
RAILWAYS IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND
In order to comment on the areas outlined by
the Committee, Railtrack describes in this submission features
of the rail network in the North of England and also outlines
the plans for meeting forecast future needs for rail services.
1. CURRENT RAIL
1.1 For the purposes of this submission
the rail network in the North of England is considered to cover
the administrative regions of the NW Regional Assembly, NE Regional
Assembly, and the Regional Chamber for Yorkshire and the Humber,
which represents a third of the UK population.
1.2 The rail network in the North of England
consists of approximately 4,000 route km (7,800 track km) on which
there are around 4,400 train movements per day to, from, within
or passing through the region, out of a national total of approximately
17,000 movements. Approximately 8,000 people are employed in the
rail industry in the areas of operation, passenger services, maintenance
and construction in the Northern region.
1.3 The rail network serves four principal
passenger markets in the North of England:
long distance passenger movements
on mainlines, primarily to and from London;
regional passenger services primarily
linking together the conurbations and major towns of Northern
England, and also providing access to Manchester airport;
access to conurbation centres from
the local area, primarily for commuting. The market is largest
in Leeds and Liverpool and smaller in Manchester and Sheffield
(although it should be noted that rail's share of the commuter
market in northern conurbations is much lower than in London and
the South East); and
rural passenger services linking
towns and villages to local regional centres such as Carlisle,
Barrow in Furness, Hull and Middlesbrough.
1.4 Journeys to and from the Northern Region,
and within the region, account for around 12% of all rail passenger
journeys (ie in excess of 100 million passenger journeys per annum).
1.5 In addition, one quarter of rail freight
traffic (10 billion gross tonne kilometres of a total 44 billion
gross tonne) is within the North of England and to and from other
areas of the UK including the 20% of freight, which runs to/from
the Humber area.
1.6 There are seven main Train Operating
Companies (TOCs) using the network in the North of England. These
are Virgin Cross Country, Virgin West Coast, GNER, Hull Trains,
Arriva Trains Northern, First North Western, and Arriva Trains
Merseyside. Freight operations involve DRS, EWS and Freightliner.
Within the next five years, four of the TOCs will be re-negotiating
or bidding for the replacement franchises. Railtrack works with
the SRA and bidders in evaluating infrastructure proposals developed
as part of the franchise process.
1.7 Railtrack is actively working with TOCs
on projects to improve the quality of rail services. For example,
new timetables have allowed an increase in the frequency of trains
between Leeds and Manchester, and Railtrack has worked to further
improve the specific timing of those trains (to make them more
1.8 Railtrack is committed to providing
a safe and reliable railway. The performance/ reliability of train
services improvement work is built on several key work streams:
Local cross industry Delivery Groups.
Structural Improvement of the time
Improved maintenance delivery and
Working in partnership with TOCs
in the introduction of new trains.
1.9 In the North of England our local Delivery
Groups have been very successful and they have recently been strengthened
by the creation of Virtual Boards (which have been set up to address
high level strategic issues for major routes and geographic areas
with representatives from Railtrack, TOCs and contractors plus
the ORR and SRA attending as observers) to cover the West Coast
Main Line and the Midland Main Line. More Virtual Boards are planned.
1.10 Five Passenger Transport Executives
(PTEs) cover the metropolitan areas in the North of EnglandGreater
Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Tyne
and Wear. Railtrack works in partnership with the PTEs in developing
their strategies and delivering agreed rail infrastructure improvements.
For example, Railtrack has worked with Merseytravel to complete
major refurbishments at Old Roan and Kirkdale stations and in
South Yorkshire we have made good progress with SYPTE in regards
to the development of facilities at Sheffield station.
1.11 Railtrack has also worked with other
industry parties in delivering a number of important major improvements
to rail services in the North of England over the last five years.
increasing capacity into Leeds station
from 26 trains an hour to around 40;
of metro services to serve Sunderland resulting in up to nine
passenger services an hour;
Settle-Carlisle freight routeextensive
programme of track renewals to support use of the route for heavy
coal traffic by EWS;
station regeneration programme has
seen major improvements to stations at Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool
Lime Street and Newcastle; and
improvements at Doncaster South junction
to remove a capacity and reliability bottleneck.
2. MEETING FUTURE
2.1 Railtrack in common with the SRA Strategic
Plan is expecting network growth of over 40% in rail passenger
kilometres over the next 10 years. The growth, however, is not
uniform. Growth in excess of 40% is expected on the inter-urban
routes to London and on the newly enhanced Cross Country network.
By contrast, lower levels of growth are expected on local services
in metropolitan areas and on rural services.
2.2 The following map, which is an extract
from Railtrack's 2002 NMS, shows current utilisation of the network
(Winter 2001-02) based on the peak part of the day in the North
2.3 High levels of utilisation such as 90%
or more are shown in red on the map and fall into two categories:
lines carrying a mix of passenger
and freight traffic, often over long distances, where utilisation
of capacity is high over long periods of the day eg the Trans-Pennine
route, Darlington-Newcastle (ECML); and
commuter routes where an intensive
service operates for a short period in the peak, but where spare
capacity exists outside the peak (eg the approaches to Manchester).
2.4 Should no infrastructure change occur
beyond that already committed to (primarily the WCML upgrade)
the number of significant bottlenecks are predicted to increase
by 2012 and would then comprise the following:
East Coast Main Line-Northallerton-Newcastle.
North Trans-Pennine: Leeds Manchester.
2.5 However, it is important to put the
picture on capacity bottlenecks into context; compared with the
more densely trafficked South East, in general there remains significant
network capacity to accommodate growth of rail services in the
North of England.
Planning for additional capacity
2.6 The analysis above identifies those
parts of the network where capacity utilisation is at 90% or more.
At these locations traffic growth is constrained and performance
suffers. This is not consistent with developing a railway that
can deliver substantial lasting improvements in performance and
solutions must be sought. Railtrack is working with the SRA to
develop proposals for enhancing capacity, and it will be for the
SRA to then decide which of these they wish to see developed further.
Low cost solutions include changing the timetable and lengthening
trains; higher cost solutions involve building new infrastructure.
2.7 The SRA and Railtrack have commenced
a thorough review of the basis on which the timetable is constructed
with the aim being to improve the utilisation of the network and
the reliability of services. This work is being carried out in
conjunction with TOCs. Route reviews for the Greater Manchester
area and the Trans-Pennine routes are planned to be implemented
in summer 2004.
2.8 Railtrack has already worked with TOCs
in the North to lengthen trains; a recent example being the PTE/SRA
sponsored lengthening of Class 333 trains on the Leeds suburban
routes. Other opportunities to lengthen trains may emerge from
the re-franchising processRailtrack is closely involved
with the SRA and bidders on the development of proposals for the
TransPennine and Northern franchises.
2.9 Larger scale enhancements listed in
the SRA strategic plan as being either underway or in the pipeline
over the next 10 years include:
East Coast Mainline upgrade.
Gauge enhancement Liverpool-Manchester-Yorkshire-Humber
ports to allow deep sea containers and lorry trailers to be conveyed
to/from the east coast and Mersey area ports.
Humberside to Doncaster to allow rail to handle increased volumes
of freight tonnage through the Humber ports and reopening of the
Brigg line for regular operation of freight traffic.
Additional platform at Manchester
2.10 It should also be noted that in line
with the review of engineering and asset management policies which
has taken place since Hatfield (October 2000), Railtrack plans
to increase its maintenance and renewal spend on all parts of
the network. This planned expenditure increase for 2002/03 (up
23% on 2001-02) is expected to be reflected in activity in the
North and to result in improvements to overall levels of reliability
Alan Bloom, Chris Hill, Scott Martin and Mike
Rollings were appointed Joint Special Railway Administrators of
Railtrack PLC on 7th October 2001.
The Joint Special Railway Administrators act
as agents of the company and without personal liability.
10 June 2002