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19.08.15

Councillors call for resumed track works during ‘paused’ MML electrification

Councillors from all main parties on Nottinghamshire County Council have urged the government to take advantage of the ‘paused’ Midland Main Line £1.1bn electrification project to proceed with “cheaper” phase 2 track works.

In a letter to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP, the four councillors leading the various political groups on the council said the “very modest” £200m track works – including schemes at Leicester and Derby and works funded by Network Rail’s passenger journey improvement fund – should “proceed in full”.

They wrote: “It is imperative that phase 2 of the works on the track should proceed in full. The works at Leicester that [ex transport secretary] Justine Greening specified in the CP5 HLOS are essential to the speed-up as they will eliminate a 15mph speed restriction, as well as providing sufficient extra capacity for the ongoing growth of freight services, and it is essential that those works proceed without delay.

“Doing them before the line is electrified will be cheaper than the original plan to do them afterwards, which would have required costly alterations to some electrification equipment.”

Cllr Alan Rhodes, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “As the electrification is being delayed, it becomes even more important that other works on the track and signalling on the line at Market Harborough/Great Bowden, Leicester, Derby and other smaller locations are all carried out by 2019, and sooner if possible.

“These works will increase the speed limits that currently constrain trains, and so will reduce journey times for all passengers and improve our connectivity to London. They are also much simpler and cheaper to implement than full electrification and are the least that should be done.”

The councillors said that works are necessary raise the linespeeds on the six miles between Trent and Nottingham, as trains currently have to travel at 45mph below their top speed.

They wrote: “Network Rail is already planning to replace level crossings on this section with bridges, after which only modest further works should be needed to allow speed to be raised.

“Again, it would be cheapest overall to raise these speeds before the line is electrified and the pause provides the perfect opportunity to follow this cost-effective course of action.”

The letter reiterates their “disappointment” with the announced ‘pause’ of electrification works from London to Beeston and Nottingham and on up to south Yorkshire, particularly as they are already receiving “less investment than other main lines”. It added that “the resumption date should be as early as possible”.

Councillors also asked McLoughlin not to approve any further electrification works in other routes before works have resumed on the Midland Main Line, “as any such ‘queue jumping’ would be intolerable and counter to the declaration that works have been ‘paused’ rather than postponed”.

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