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OLE installed on Midland Main Line route for first time in 40 years

Network Rail’s Orange Army has reached a major milestone this week as overhead line masts for electrification were installed on the London to Corby route for the first time in over 40 years as part of the Midland Main Line electrification programme.

Engineers laid 40 new masts along the section of track between Corby and Kettering ready to hold the overhead lines necessary for electrification to begin. They had to carefully align and then secure the 5m masts onto cylindrical steel pipes, installed earlier this year.

This is the next step in the major project, building on upgrades that have already taken place on this section of the mainline – such as raising and strengthening bridges and installing 10,000 yards of fencing, as well as new track and signalling.

Despite the achievement, the already-disrupted project was marred by unexpected cutbacks early this year, when transport secretary Chris Grayling announced that plans for electrification north of Kettering would be scrapped.

The move was justified with the advancement of bi-mode trains, which Grayling said would eliminate the need to electrify every section of line to achieve improved journeys.

However, the remainder of the project will still be completed – with this week’s milestone just one of a number of new modernisation plans.

The upgrade also includes the installation of new track south of Kettering; resignalling, track and platform construction in Derby; capacity and line speed improvements between Bedford and Market Harborough; and longer platforms with a more accessible station at Market Harborough.

Rob McIntosh, route managing director at Network Rail, explained: “Reaching this landmark step on the upgrade of the Midland Main Line has real significance. It brings us a step closer to transforming rail travel for passengers in the East Midlands region as well as those travelling through it.

“Coupled with our projects elsewhere on the route, this upgrade will bring real, meaningful benefits to the communities and economies our railway serves.”

Top image: Network Rail

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Andrew Gwilt   14/11/2017 at 11:40

The only downside is that the electrification will only go as far as Kettering and Corby. But if the government were to give Network Rail extra money to spend on the electrification on the Midland Main Line. Then the electrification could extend to Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and Sheffield. And hopefully it could even extend to Leeds in the future. Despite new Bi-Mode trains are on order for the Midland Main Line.

Andrew JG   14/11/2017 at 11:50

Great news. At least they are starting to electrify the Midland Main Line north of Bedford. Keep it up Network Rail.

James Miller   14/11/2017 at 13:32

Modern Railways reported some months ago, that there was problems getting a viable MMML and Thaameslink timetable. Could it be that if you electrify to Corby and run that route with Class 387 trains, you get an extra path needed for 2 tph?

Nonsuchmike   14/11/2017 at 13:33

Of course every little helps in modernising the whole of our network in the UK whether it be electrifying this part of the Midland main line (smelly diesels to run further north Mr Grayling?), linking two mainline stations in Manchester via the new Ordsall chord, or dualling the line between Chester & Shrewsbury via Wrexham. The question on everybody's lips is why no immediate plans for dualling on the Felixstowe line where freight and passengers get such a poor deal? And why is everything, especially the northern sections' roll-outs, taking so long that it is like squeezing blood out of a stone?

Mmlred   14/11/2017 at 14:24

There's a lot of DfT pushback on moving Corby services to the Thameslink franchise as the 700s are, apparently, not fit to run those distances. It does mean that the EM franchise will need a bespoke fleet of electric-only trains for the Corby service to avoid wasting bi-mode stock on such a route, but by the DfT's own admission they must be "intercity standard" trains. That sounds like the plan they'll be pushing, but they would be wasted on that route, especially if plans to pull the Melton via. Harringworth service go ahead in the next franchise. I do wonder if there's a logical middle ground - the Corby service is currently "in-line" with what EMT provide for other services, but risks becoming a "non-standard" route with a small fleet with little resilience when electrification is completed, which is entirely the DfT's fault for cancelling northward electrification.

John Grant   14/11/2017 at 14:46

Maybe Corby could share some 387s with GN?

Andrew JG   14/11/2017 at 14:55

Or Class 379’s Electrostars that Greater Anglia are replacing the Class 379’s with the Class 720’s Aventra. That could be ideal for St. Pancras-Corby service.

Shaun Collinson   14/11/2017 at 16:23

Proud to see our new product being installed so easily! We feel we have cured previous installation issues with this particular component, also reduced costs and we manufacture them in the UK! Nice to see Network Rail listening to its UK partners!

David   14/11/2017 at 22:27

John where do GN have spare 387s for “sharing”?

AJG89   14/11/2017 at 22:50

Some train enthusiasts have said that Class 707’s could be used on London St. Pancras-Kettering & Corby. As the Class 707’s may operate on AC 25kv Overhead. Instead of operating on DC 750v 3rd Rail as SWR are replacing them with the Class 701’s. In which could be ideal for East Midlands Trains to use the Class 707’s on the London-Kettering & Corby routes once the electrification is completed. As the Class 707’s have been tested on AC 25kv Overhead before they went into service just before South West Trains were rebranded as South Western Railway back in August. If the government or TOC may allow EMT to inherit the Class 707’s to be operated on London St. Pancras-Kettering and Corby services in the future.

Jon   15/11/2017 at 13:37

"Some train enthusiasts" Yeah that's a great source. Just like wikipedia.

Icn   15/11/2017 at 15:34

London to Corby (89 miles) on a Class 700 clone, you've got to be joking Andrew! In any case the Class 707s are not be supplied as dual voltage trains.

Peter Jarvis   15/11/2017 at 16:47

Politicians have been known to change their minds....

John Webster   15/11/2017 at 17:12

First time ever isn't it - not been any previously on this section!

AJG89   16/11/2017 at 01:42

@Icn. I suppose Class 707's for EMT is a no I guess.

Andrew Gwilt   16/11/2017 at 04:30

Wikipedia is a good source no matter what you will find Jon.

Jon   16/11/2017 at 06:41

Guess you know better than my university lecturers Andrew. Ffs.

Andrew Gwilt   16/11/2017 at 14:52

@Jon. Haha how funny. Moron.

Train Enthusiast   16/11/2017 at 18:50

Please please Network Rail. If you do have the chance to electrify the Midland Main Line north of Bedford. Please electrify it to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. I couldn’t even care if it’s cancelled just like the cancellation of the electrification to Swansea that has been cancelled due to costs of electrifying the GWML from Cardiff to Swansea.

RMT   16/11/2017 at 19:19

What? How can you electrify the MML if it's been cancelled? If it's cancelled how is it being electrified?

Jon   16/11/2017 at 19:20

Great to see how Andrew reacts to the kinds of comments he makes on a weekly basis. Just like "Ffs".

Andrew Gwilt   16/11/2017 at 21:27

@Jon. STFU!!

Train Enthusiast   16/11/2017 at 21:28

Maybe I am thinking like 15 years from now. Great!

Dave H (D9015)   04/12/2017 at 01:23

The debacle of a WCML blockage - such as that from 1/12 to 3/12 with OHL and P-way damage at Wembley could be substantially mitigated if MML wires reached Leicester with infill links Wigston-Nuneaton(-Coventry) and Bedford-Bletchley, especially if a Southbound chord was added from the Marston Vale line. Planned and longer blockades of WCML on the section which currently has no contingency options would surely boost the CBR for MML and resilience of the WCML Restoring 4 tracks between Bedford and Kettering plus former 4-track sections between Kettering and Leicester would effectively deliver an 8-track railway between London and the Midlands, and less than 1 hour London-Leicester - well better than via HS2 and Elmdon Airport

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