Transpennine Route Upgrade’s first electric wires now in place to power greener journeys

The Transpennine Route Upgrade has reached a major milestone with the completion of the first section of electric overhead wires to be installed on the route.
Date 14.12.22

This achievement has taken place in North Yorkshire between Church Fenton and Colton Junction, where trains from Leeds join the East Coast Main Line into York. This is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the north, with over 100 trains using the line each day.

It is the first step towards a cleaner, greener, fully-electrified railway between York, Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester.

When the newly-installed wires are energised, they will allow more environmentally-friendly electric and hybrid trains to run at speeds of up to 125mph – that’s 30mph faster than they can currently run.

Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail’s Eastern region said:

“We’ve reached a major milestone on our journey to bring cleaner, greener trains to the north and deliver a better railway which people can rely on.

“Our teams in York and Manchester are working in tandem to electrify sections of the route and will eventually connect to unlock faster, more frequent services and help passengers get to where they need to be, on time.”

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said:

“Our multi-billion pound Transpennine Route upgrade will transform journeys for passengers across the North of England, with faster, more frequent services and improved accessibility.

“This is the first major milestone on the way to a fully electrified route between York, Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester, which will reduce journey times and save 87,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.”


Over the last four months, engineers worked almost 9,000 hours to install a total of 37 miles of overhead wire along this four-track stretch of line, together with an additional 9 miles of earth wires. Work was carried out overnight at weekends to cause as little disruption to passengers as possible.

When complete across the full 70-mile route across the Pennines, rail passengers will be helping to save up to 87,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year – the equivalent to 5.9 million car journeys along the same route. For people living near the railway, it will also mean better air quality and quieter trains.

To maintain an equally eco-friendly construction, we assembled the new overhead line equipment locally at our nearby Joseph Lynn Logistics Hub and transported it to site by train.

Work to join the newly-installed wires into the existing overhead line equipment on the East Coast Main Line at Colton Junction will take place in the future, ahead of their energisation in 2024.