Electric train trial success for Transpennine Route Upgrade

Stalybridge test train - Image: Network Rail

An electric train has travelled for the first time between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU). 

Engineers have been testing the new electrification equipment installed along the route as part of the multi-billion-pound upgrade to the line between Manchester and York, via Huddersfield and Leeds.

The successful test train run follows work completed by TRU last year, which included the installation of overhead line electrification (OLE) between Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge and Guide Bridge stations, the replacement of track to allow faster speeds, 25 new signals for closer spacing of trains and a higher-speed railway junction at Stalybridge. 

Many of these key upgrades were completed as engineers worked around the clock during a 26-day closure in March and April last year.

Electric trains are set to run between Manchester and Stalybridge from the end of the year, bringing greener, faster and more reliable journeys to the route.

This will be the first section of line to be electrified as part of the TRU, with the remainder of the route between Manchester and York set to be electrified in the future.

TRU is also delivering station improvements along the route to enhance customer experience, comfort and accessibility, whilst a new digital signalling system to improve the reliability of the line will be installed.

Upgrades also include doubling the number of tracks between Huddersfield and Dewsbury to allow for greater capacity, meaning more seats for passengers and opportunities for increased freight.

Neil Holm, managing director of TRU, said: “This is a big achievement in our plans to bring cleaner, faster and better travel to the people of the North of England.

“People can see that TRU is very much in the delivery phase now and the benefits of all our teams’ hard work is starting to show. I would like to thank passengers and local residents who have supported us throughout the ongoing work.”

The train, which was a Northern Class 331, departed from Blackpool North and arrived at Manchester Piccadilly just before 12:00. It then travelled between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge station while the tests were undertaken.

TRU will create and protect 8,000 new roles during construction, with 60% of the workforce employed from within 25 miles of the route and 80% within 40 miles.

The successful test train run between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge follows the recent announcement that Mossley station is to be relocated 300m to the east to allow for the construction of a fully accessible station for the first time in its history. 

Electric trains will next be tested on the eastern section of TRU later in the year, between York and Church Fenton.

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