The leadership of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) has welcomed news that the Manchester to Liverpool train line is to be electrified under government plans.
Transport Minister Sadiq Khan visited Manchester to make the announcement that the conversion to electric will begin immediately.
The line is just one of two in the country to be selected as a priority, with the Great Western mainline from London to South Wales also to be electrified.
The Department for Transport estimates that the journey time between Manchester and Liverpool will be just 30 minutes following electrification – a saving of 14 minutes.
Councillor Keith Whitmore, Chair of GMITA said: “The to Liverpool to Manchester line was the world’s first intercity railway when it opened in 1830 so it is fitting that it has been chosen among the first to be electrified as part of this major project.
“This is great news for passengers, for the environment and for the long term future of our local rail network. Electric trains are quicker, quieter, more reliable, and cause less pollution.
“And ultimately, electrification will reduce the longer term costs of running the rail network in the north, which can only be a good thing.
“Electrification should also free up some of the diesel trains used by First TransPennine to provide more seats on other services – critically those running to Manchester on overcrowded routes from places like Bolton, Stalybridge and Warrington.
“I look forward to working in partnership with government to see these exciting plans come to fruition.”
The government now intends to review and re-publish its Rolling Stock Plan in the Autumn. This follows concerns in Greater Manchester that the Department for Transport was intending to substantially reduce the number of additional carriages allocated to Northern Rail.
Vice Chair of GMITA, Councillor Ian Macdonald commented: “We are encouraged that the government is now going to look at its rolling stock plan again. I hope that they will take into account the serious concerns we have voiced about the level of capacity for rail commuters in our city region.
“We are also very pleased that Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has agreed to discuss this matter of with a cross party group of Greater Manchester MPs in September.”
GMITA will continue to seek reassurances that the city region will get its fair share of carriages in the future to help alleviate overcrowding and cope with growing demand.
The Liverpool to Manchester line will be electrified over the next four years, making it possible to run electric trains from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Department for Transport has committed to completely modernising any cascaded rolling stock that will run on the newly electrified services between Manchester and Liverpool.