THE electrification of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Sheffield is planned for completion by 2020, with the Derby leg done the year before, Network Rail has revealed.
It is part of the Government’s £500 million plan to have electric trains running between London St Pancras and Sheffield.
Confirmation of the funding followed the Derby Telegraph’s Electrify Our Line campaign, run with the help of the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, which represents more than 100 rail-related businesses in the East Midlands.
The aim was to ensure that Midland Main Line electrification was included in the Government’s transport spending plans for 2014 to 2019 – announced in July 2012.
Network Rail, which is carrying out the project, has now revealed its planned timetable for the work. A spokeswoman said: “This investment would see more seats, quicker journeys and cleaner and quieter trains. “Current plans are to electrify to Corby by 2017, to Leicester, Derby and Nottingham in 2019 and to Sheffield in 2020.”
Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills, was among those pushing for the electrifIcation. He said that electrification of the whole line was “always going to be a slow process”. Mr Mills said: “At the end of the day it’s long overdue that we’ve got this. At least the money is there and it’s going to happen. “We should be thankful for this mercy.” Asked if he could see any way that the funding could hit the buffers, Mr Mills said: “This is a funded project. There’s no point in electrifying to Corby and then stopping.” He added: “Rolling stock orders will be dependent on the fact that we will be running electric trains.”
Rupert Brennan-Brown, spokesman for Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, said his organisation would like to see completion of the project before 2019. He said: “Electrification of Midland Mainline is an exciting and important project but clearly this needs to be delivered sooner rather than later, ideally before 2019.”
An independent report, compiled by engineering consultancy Arup, has estimated that electrification would benefit the East Midlands to the tune of £450 million, including £35 million for Derby. It would also create and safeguard hundreds of rail jobs. The average journey time of 93 minutes between Derby and London would be cut by nine minutes. The electrification has been a long time in coming.
In 2009, there was a glimmer of hope that the route would finally receive some government cash to fund its upgrade and electrification. But to the dismay of campaigners, the Government decided to put its £1.1billion into the Great Western Main Line between London and Swansea and the route between Manchester and Liverpool.