SPECULATION is growing the Government will announce the electrification of the railway line between Chester and Crewe making way for quicker and greener trains on the London service.
Respected rail journalist Tony Miles, writing in Modern Railways, says the decision follows an evaluation of the infrastructure that would be required along the 21-mile route.
There has been no confirmation from government but Network Rail is reviewing whether it should be a priority in its future plans for the industry to be published in the autumn.
However, Mr Miles also raised concerns there may be insufficient electric Pendolino trains on order to serve the Chester route in any event.
Prime Minister David Cameron, in answer to a question by city MP Stephen Mosley who is campaigning for electrification, told parliament: “My Honourable Friend’s suggestion is not in the current programme, but we will look sympathetically at it. We want to see more electrification of railway lines in our country.”
At present the majority of London to Chester services are operated using ‘Voyager’ diesel trains.
Some Saturday services and summer Sunday services are operated using the faster-accelerating ‘Pendolino’ electric trains as far as Crewe where a diesel loco must then be attached for the rest of the journey, causing a delay of up to 20 minutes during the changeover.
Rail enthusiast John Murray, of Eastern Pathway, Handbridge, said: “Modern electric trains are energy-efficient and have a considerably much lower carbon footprint than diesel trains, cost less to maintain, lower running costs and typically longer life.
“From a passenger’s point of view, they are a lot quieter in not having a diesel engine under the floor running constantly and much cleaner from lack of diesel fumes.”