HS2

08.11.16

Maynard refuses to confirm 2023 deadline for Midland Main Line electrification

Rail minister Paul Maynard MP has refused to confirm that the entire Midland Main Line electrification up to Sheffield will be finished by 2023, dodging repeated questions from local MPs at a Commons debate yesterday.

Maynard was grilled by former shadow transport secretary and Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood, former education secretary and Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan, and chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee and Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.

All three politicians questioned if the government remained committed to the 2023 scheme deadline, which is already a revision of the original promise to electrify the main line by 2020.

Morgan was the first to bring the issue up, noting that the extended completion date “is not ideal”, but was one that gave certainty to passengers, communities, businesses and investors.

“The upgrade and electrification scheme was conceived as an integrated package. Only by implementing the whole scheme can the benefits to passengers, freight operators and local businesses be delivered in full,” she argued.

“It remains vital that the government deliver the upgrade and electrification scheme in full by 2023 at the latest. I hope that the minister will acknowledge the concerns of members and give his commitment to the whole scheme.”

In response, Maynard confirmed that the DfT remains committed to electrification from London to Kettering and Corby by 2019, which is also a revised deadline from the original planned date of 2017 – but made no mention of the line up to Sheffield.

Greenwood later brought up the issue once again, quoting former rail minister Claire Perry’s promises from September last year. Asked if he would reaffirm commitment to that timescale, Maynard replied that he would “merely repeat” what he just said, “which is that we are committed to the development of the ongoing electrification programme”.

Betts then immediately cornered the rail minister, saying: “Let us be absolutely clear about something. We were given a promise in this House by ministers when the electrification was unpaused that electrification would happen – to Sheffield, with the whole line complete – by 2023. Is the minister now rowing back on that commitment or is he prepared to confirm it?”

But Maynard just said that the DfT is “continuing to develop the electrification proposals”, adding that he would not “take lectures” from Labour members about the pace of the project given that their party “failed to electrify more than six miles in its entire time in government”.

“What we are focusing on today is ensuring that we have better quality train services on the inter-city routes by ensuring that the longer distance trains have fewer stopping places south of Kettering,” he continued. “Therefore, we are continuing that development work.”

The minister later added that the development work on the further stages of electrification “is an incremental process”.

The electrification of the Midland Main Line was ‘paused’ in June last year by former transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin in order to allow Network Rail to focus on Great Western, which the government called its “top priority”.

When the scheme was unpaused in September, the DfT revealed works would take longer than expected, with the electrification of the line north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby being pushed to 2019 and the line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Sheffield delayed until 2023.

As well as costing the government as much as £40m, the process of ‘unpausing’ the scheme also sparked backlash from the rail supply chain, with companies making clear that the original halt to the works had a profound effect on them.

 

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

Lutz   08/11/2016 at 13:45

A little ridiculous to be using terms such as grave and critical in connection with a rail scheme.

John   08/11/2016 at 13:46

Oh really??This is another piece of blithering incompetence by the politicians and their subordinates. McLoughlin totally messed about last year with this and now we have yet another episode of failing to get a hold of Notwork Fail's sheer inability to budget for time and cost. This is a no 1 Priority and ahead of HS2 - which should be scrapped if necessary as it is hopelessly expensive and won't deliver on any Business Plan - that is if you have ever seen one that makes and sense!!

Roger Capel, Insider   09/11/2016 at 08:05

I think that the only reason we got Corby by 2019 is because the powers that be were shamed into it, given the immense amount of work already put into it. There's also the little issue of what's going to run on it in 2019, given manufacturers' lead times - Derby has capacity problems looming already. Displaced & face lifted IC225s from East Coast would make sense (the timing's right) & would still be an improvement on Meridian, though 91 availability can still be an issue.

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

West Midlands HS2 interchange station development granted up to £20m

18/09/2019West Midlands HS2 interchange station development granted up to £20m

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has agreed to fund up to £20m for a UK Central Hub in Solihull alongside the HS2 station develo... more >
‘Local hero’ recognised for his work with homeless in Blackpool

17/09/2019‘Local hero’ recognised for his work with homeless in Blackpool

Chris Conway, a Network Rail signaller, was awarded for his contribution to tackling homelessness last night at an awards ceremony in Blackpool. ... more >
Isle of Wight rail line receives £26m investment

17/09/2019Isle of Wight rail line receives £26m investment

Government has unveiled a £26m investment package into the Isle of Wight railway line, to help modernise and improve the line and its ... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

17/09/2019Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

Continuing our mission to connect buyers with suppliers, This year TransCityRail North is adding a new element to the event. We are introducing an incomparable opportunity for you to meet with over 11 procurement directors from Network Rail at our exclusive 'Network Rail Meet the Buyers Hub'.  Situated at the heart of the event ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >
Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

02/07/2019Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

Smart electrification is the way to boost clean energy resources, argues Leo Murray, director at 10:10 Climate Action. Contractors are clear... more >
Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

02/07/2019Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

The TCR Midlands conference is only days away and tickets are going fast for the sector event of the year at the Vox Conference Centre in Birming... more >

rail industry focus

  • 11/09/2019The next generation of rail infrastructure

    How the rail industry delivers the next generation of complex infrastructure will rely heavily on the people tasked with leading the projects, and the...
  • 11/09/2019Putting passengers first

    How does the rail industry design the railways for the next 40 years, and when it does, how do we make sure it’s all done with the passenger in mind?...
  • 10/09/2019Cleaning up the railways

    Jim Knox, director of Gard Chemicals, explains how the company is helping the rail industry ensure they have the best cleaning and maintenance...
View all News

interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he wo... more >