The Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is a major, multi-billion-pound programme of railway improvements which will bring better journeys to passengers travelling across the Pennines between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York. Launched in early 2017, TRU outcomes are focused on offering faster and more reliable journeys, increasing train frequency and enhancing current stations while providing sustainable travel to their users.

The programme involves complex interfaces including electrification, signalling, stations, tunnels, civil structures, electrical and track improvements over 12 stations, 70 miles of track, 65 bridges and 6 tunnels. The TRU West Projects (taking place between Manchester and Leeds) are an essential part of the TRU Programme that increases the lines capacity, reduces journey times, and will alleviate congestion during peak periods, improving service, and enhancing safety and comfort for passengers.

A collaboration between Network Rail, Amey with Siemens, BAM and Arup called the TRU West Alliance is already making this happen, including electrifying the line from Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge and increasing line speed through Miles Platting and remodelling Stalybridge station. Along with our strategic Supply Chain Partners including Tony Gee, AHR Architects, COWI and Atkins, the Alliance is using lessons learned to find better ways of delivering remarkable outcomes as we increase line capacity from 2 to 4 at Huddersfield, complete highly complex engineering works near Ravensthorpe and create a new Morley Station.

Benefiting communities

The upgrades as part of the programme will enhance customer confidence as millions of passengers will benefit from increased capacity and reliability. Improving the resilience of one of Britain’s oldest railways, the Alliance established best practices from the outset. 

Implementing a collaborative design and early contractor involvement led approach to overcome the complex engineering issues, we are using digital engineering to enhance connectivity.

With more frequent trains, the customer experience will change and encourage more commuters to use a more sustainable form of travel. Understanding each station has different needs, we have created well-engineered best value solutions including services with enhanced passenger capacity via longer and quicker trains.

Quicker, cleaner, fully electrified more sustainable travel between Manchester, and York means more local commuters have greater access, enabling greater social mobility across local communities. TRU will be a driver for enhanced career choices for local people who live alongside this route.

From apprentice to engineer to senior engineer, TRU is providing career opportunities across the Alliance. Integrated partnership working has enabled a breadth of learning opportunities from early careers to secondments of Arup staff into site teams. The Alliance actively engages in all social value activities, enhancing local skills and job opportunities, and TRU staff are contributing volunteer hours to support the local community. 

Our role

TRU West Alliance is delivering a number of projects (W1/W2a W2bc W3 and W4/5) integrating at programme level with TRU East Alliance (E1 E234 and Neville Hill). The Alliance has used a best athlete for the role approach. Acknowledging that leading people across the Alliance was difficult during Covid and as W1 nears completion on time, the TRU Programme operating model is being changed to set up for success.

As Project W3 needed a Transport Act Works Order (TAWO) and public enquiry validation, we applied a systematic approach. Understanding what was required, we developed a clear audit trail and implemented a Design Approval Panel (DAP) approach which ensured we recorded when why and how each decision had been made. Armed with this information during the public enquiry we achieved TWAO approval, Secretary of State approval six months ahead of programme and Network Rail’s cost/time/quality drivers.

The DAP approach enabled us to achieve planning approval and Listed Building Consent for major construction and engineering works at the Grade l* listed Huddersfield Station. Obtaining full buy in to this approach enabled rapid signoff during each Governance for Railway Investment Projects stage and the self-certification delegated and self-assurance of many design packages.

Recognising that W3 was the most congested and restricted part of the line the upgrade includes increasing from two tracks to four and introducing a grade separation junction and increased resilience and capacity to four express trains per hour, two 2 semi-fast trains per hour and two all-stops local services per hour.

This enhanced service will increase social mobility via a resilient, regular and reliable service.

A digital approach

Our digital signalling team has developed the Rail Signalling Visualisation Tool (RSVT) using survey data, design information and the rail operators’ technical requirements, to build a 3D model of the 70-mile line. By accurately simulating both the system behaviour and the outside world virtually, the tool enabled design engineers, railway owners and operators to visualise how the driver will respond to the proposed railway signalling system, helping them to make crucial decisions around safety and performance and ultimately improving signalling design and operational safety.

The Alliance led the application of the latest digital tools. Some of their main objectives were to simplify a highly complex overhead line design, encourage collaborative design development and reduce design and build costs. Enhancing track speed and reducing journey times between Manchester and York through track alignment optimisation and enabling Network Rail to train drivers virtually through advanced 3D modelling were also key goals.

Taking the Alliance members on a digital journey has enabled us to influence how the project is built, and by using Carbon Mapping, reduced embodied carbon and carbon in use, whilst enhancing biodiversity.