End of line for diesel trains

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Some of Britain's most popular rail lines are to be electrified as part of a £1.1bn project to modernise the network, shunt diesel trains into sidings and help lower carbon emissions, the Government will announce today.

The Great Western mainline from London to Swansea, used by about 21 million passengers a year, will be electrified over eight years, the Prime Minister will say. A 30-mile stretch of track between Manchester and Liverpool will also be electrified over four years, cutting journey times by 15 minutes.

About 300 miles of track will be electrified to help the Government cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Electric trains produce 20 to 35 per cent less carbon per mile than diesel trains.

Passengers on the Great Western mainline will face eight years of disruptions but Network Rail said it planned to carry out the works overnight.

The project is expected to boost capacity as electric trains can carry more passengers than diesel ones. The Government believes it will recoup its costs over 40 years as electric trains require less maintenance, cause less damage to the track and cost less to operate.