Rail Industry Focus

01.01.12

An electric proposal

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Dec/Jan 2007

Kate Ashley reports on the case for electrification of the Midlands Main Line, and why this upgrade is well over-due.

The Midland Main Line (MML) is the only main line to London that has not been electrified, and there are still no current plans to implement any upgrades in this spending control period – although the Initial Industry Plan for CP5, 2014-2019, does propose some investment.

This is something that the South Yorkshire PTE and East Midlands Councils are pushing for strongly. Following the launch of a report outlining the case for the upgrade, a letter has been sent to Transport Secretary Justine Greening urging her to consider making the investment.

This letter states: “We believe that the classic rail network has an important role to play, and it is vitally important to our future competitiveness and economic growth of our city regions.”

The case for electrification is based on six key points: improving journey times, capacity and reliability; providing good value for money; generating significant economic benefits; supporting future population growth and regeneration; reducing CO2 emissions; and providing the first step towards an improved strategic network.

Journey times between London and Sheffield could be reduced by 13-14 minutes, and electric trains would provide far greater reliability and the ability to introduce improved rolling stock.

Additionally, connecting four of the UK’s largest cities, all with rapidly increasing populations, could increase business opportunities and create economic value of approximately £450m over the 60 year appraisal period, according to the report. Upgrading the railway would also facilitate greater regeneration in these areas, thus helping to rebalance the economy.

CO2 emissions could be reduced from current levels by around 40% and Network Rail estimates that £30m could be saved annually in operating costs, resulting in a high benefit to cost ratio.

Derby and Sheffield stations would be upgraded, re-modelling the track and extending platforms to enable services with longer trains. Line speed improvements are also needed to fill in ‘gaps’ between Sheffield and Leeds and at Market Harborough.

Other changes would include electrifying track from Bedford to Sheffield via Leicester and Derby, Trent Junction to Nottingham and Kettering to Corby. Nottingham to Chesterfield via Langley Mill would also benefit from electrification.

The report recommends that these improvements must be delivered ahead of HS2, and should be seen as preparations, not alternative measures. If approved, the scheme could be completed by 2020.

Cllr David Parsons, chair of East Midlands Councils said: “This report completely justifies the investment and improvement in the Midland Main Line. Local government in the East Midlands is behind it, local businesses are behind it and I hope that Westminster and the Department for Transport will also put their weight behind this vital project.”

Simon Carr of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership said at the launch of the report: “It is a project long overdue – more money has been spent on improving car parks on the West Coast Main Line in the past five years than on the whole of the Midland Main Line, and it is time to redress that balance.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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