Transpennine Route Upgrade - East of Leeds

We are helping to deliver essential upgrades between Leeds and York, as part of Network Rail’s Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU).

We are delivering essential upgrades between Leeds and York, as part of Network Rail’s Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU).

TRU is a multi-billion pound, transformative, long-term railway infrastructure programme that will improve connectivity in the North. It will support economic growth in the North and deliver real benefits for passengers and communities along this pivotal rail artery.

Stretching across the North of England between York and Manchester, via Leeds and Huddersfield, the 76-mile Transpennine railway serves 23 stations, crosses over and dips under 285 bridges and viaducts, passes through six miles of tunnels, and crosses over 29 level crossings.

The East of Leeds part of TRU is between York and Church Fenton. This contract was awarded in October 2017 to the TRU East Alliance of Network Rail, VolkerRail, J. Murphy and Sons and Siemens.


In August 2022, the alliance installed the first section of new electric overhead wires on a mainline in Yorkshire for over 25 years, marking a step-change in progress for the multi-billion-pound Transpennine Route Upgrade.

The OLE was installed between Church Fenton and Colton Junction – where trains from Leeds join the East Coast Main Line towards York. At the end of 2022, the alliance had installed over 37km of new overhead line and over 270 new steel masts, which carry the overhead electric wires.

Energisation is planned for Spring 2025 which will allow more environmentally friendly hybrid trains to run at speeds of up to 125mph; 30mph faster than the line’s current speed.

In January 2025, the OLE between Church Fenton and Cross Gates will be constructed, with energisation planned at Easter 2027. The final section around Neville Hill will be commissioned in late 2028.

Track renewals

In December 2022 the alliance successfully installed a brand new track connection in and out of Holbeck depot in Leeds, so that Northern’s train fleet could enter and exit the depot much more efficiently. The work assists reliability and creates additional capacity on the line, allowing more trains to run, as the line can be used as a key diversionary route to keep passengers moving by train during major upgrades on the main line between York and Leeds, and Leeds and Huddersfield.

In February 2024, the alliance started the final section of track renewals between Colton Junction and York. This five mile stretch of track is one of the busiest sections of railway in the North, and a major junction where trains from Leeds meet the East Coast Main Line towards York and where over 250 freight or passenger trains pass through each day, around one very five minutes.

Once completed, the alliance will have replaced rail, sleepers and ballast on over 23km of track, extending its life and enabling trains to run faster with the line speed increasing to 125mph. 

To support the construction of the main core route works, diversionary and depot stabling enhancements were commissioned; Castleford was commissioned in October 2022, and Holbeck December 2022. Shipley is planned for 2026. 

Track renewals and drainage works between Church Fenton and Neville Hill are due to commence in January 2025.

Power upgrades

In August 2023, the Alliance commissioned two brand new Principal Supply Points at Colton Junction and Church Fenton Junction, along with 14km of feeder renewals and 23 new FSPs, to replace the existing life expired signalling power supplies. This included the fit out of the new Church Fenton PSP building complex along with extensive refurbishment and upgrades at Colton Junction.

In February 2024, the Alliance began installing junction lighting at strategic junctions between Church Fenton and York, and in December 2024, the official opening of Castleford station’s new fully accessible second platform took place.

The improvements to the station, tracks and signalling system has increased capacity, which will boost the reliability of existing services and allows more trains to run through Castleford.

The opening of the second platform, also marked the completion of the first major station improvement scheme to be delivered by the Transpennine Route Upgrade, and represented a major investment at the station.


To help reduce our carbon footprint, the alliance, with the help of Network Rail, has recycled old sleepers and rail to renew the tracks in a local train depot, providing additional capacity for the TOC during the disruptive works on the route.

When complete, across the full 76-mile route, rail passengers will be helping to save up to 87,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year – 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.

VolkerRail Specialist Businesses

Along with our partnership within the TRU East of Leeds Alliance, VolkerRail Specialist Businesses has played a pivotal role in delivering specific specialised works in signalling, LV power and plant.


Our internal design resource developed the scheme from feasibility through to completion of the detailed design alterations and renewals, incorporating APCO, future ETCS readiness requirements, fringe designs and signal sighting.


We delivered 53km of signalling power feeder renewals, alongside a new DNO and points heating supplies, and new junction and walkway lighting as part of the new track connection at Holbeck depot.


As part of the E1 area works, we supported signalling infrastructure alterations in conjunction with a new overhead line system, plain track renewals and bridge upgrades to facilitate line speed increases. Teams also updated the signalling power supplies, and have renewed 23 signals and 70km of cable over 19 stages, between December 2021 and 2024. 

Our signalling and OLE teams were also instrumental in making the OLE the primary feed for the signalling power at Colton Junction, with the DNO becoming a secondary supply. Teams also delivered the M&E services to the new platform and footbridge at Castleford station’s, which included upgraded power supplies, lift supplies and station lighting, and renewed 4km of signalling power supplies. 

Engineering management has also been provided, to manage the project delivery and complex integration across multiple technologies of relay, Smartlock, Westlock, SSI, Westcad, IECC Scalable and respective suppliers. 

Engineering management

Engineering management has also been provided, to manage the project delivery and complex integration across multiple technologies of relay, Smartlock, Westlock, SSI, Westcad, IECC Scalable and respective suppliers. 

Rail plant

Using our Kirow cranes continue to assist in track renewals and installed, and the team undertook a complex lift to install a brand new bespoke footbridge at Lady Anne crossing in Batley. The footbridge measured near 40 metres in length and was delivered in sections by road and put together on site. New OLE structures were also installed using our road rail vehicles, MEWPs and a Kirow cranes.

Future works

The works in the E234 area include similar discipline support provided on E1 but additionally VolkerRail specialist Businesses will provide 22 miles of new signalling infrastructure. Deploying WTS technology, supported by the alliance system supplier, while ensuring the new infrastructure is future proofed and digital ready for the roll out of ETCS across the network. These works require workstation alterations at York ROC across multiple workstations and five separate interlocking fringes over 50+ stages.

We are focussed on developing the potential infrastructure enhancements that will lead to faster, more frequent and more reliable train services across the north

Paul McKeown Director of Route Sponsorship for Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route