Network Rail regulation and performance

05.03.19

DfT declares electrification extension of Midland Main Line to Leicestershire

The electrification of the Midland Main Line is to be extended to Leicestershire, the DfT has confirmed.

Responding to a parliamentary question, rail minister Andrew Jones said Network Rail had been instructed to design an extension of electrification infrastructure from Kettering to Market Harborough station.

Previous £1.1bn plans to electrify the whole line from London St Pancras to Sheffield were scrapped by the government in 2017, and the latest plans would have seen the electrification extend only as far as Kettering.

However, responding to a parliamentary question tabled by Neil O’Brien, the MP for Harborough, the DfT confirmed the extension, which means bi-mode trains replacing the diesel-only trains currenting running on the Midland Main Line will be able to run under electric power.

Andrew Jones said that in March 2018, this was determined to be the best value for money option for making the power supply connection.

O’Brien said: “This is great news. I’ve been making the case for this to the DfT for a number of months and I’m pleased to see they’ve agreed with the strength of the case put forward.

“While nothing is guaranteed, it is a big leap forwards that they are now drawing up a detailed design.

“If my campaign to electrify Harborough is successful it will give us quieter trains and less pollution from diesel trains stopping and starting here.

“It would also help improve journey times. I’d like to thank everyone who supported the campaign to extend electrification so far.”

Politicians have been pushing Chris Grayling to reverse the decision to end the electrification at Kettering from the start, claiming it would “short-change” the East Midlands.

Millions of pounds has also already been spent on re-modelling a number of railway bridges in Leicestershire in order to accommodate the overhead cabling used for electrification.

The Railway Industry Association welcomed the announcement, with technical director David Clarke stating: “As the decision shows, electrification is clearly the optimal solution for intensively used rail lines.”

Maria Machancoses, the director of Midlands Connect, commented: “Extending the Midland Main Line electrification from Kettering to the national grid supply point at Market Harborough is the first step towards giving the East Midlands the transport infrastructure it deserves.

“The next steps include extending electrification to Leicester, Toton and Nottingham, to support Midlands Connect’s ambition for direct conventional compatible HS2 services between Leicester and Leeds and Nottingham and Leeds, via Toton.”

The chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber, Scott Knowles, added: “Under the current plan, we’ll have 85 miles of clean, green, quiet, electrified line, 65 miles of diesel-running and then switch back to electricity for 22 miles north of Alfreton, where HS2 will cut in to serve Chesterfield and Sheffield.

“Extending electrification to Market Harborough makes some sense given that it will be powered from there.”

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