Latest News | 17 September 2020

Chamber call for rail investment

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Bondholder East Midlands Chamber says Network Rail’s announcement of a new rail improvements plan should finally pave the way for full electrification of the Midland Main Line.

The UK’s railway operator has set out plans to electrify 4,800 miles of railway lines – including tracks in the Midlands stretching hundreds of miles – by 2050 in its Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy.

In 2017, the Department for Transport scrapped £1.1bn plans to electrify the whole of the line from London St Pancras to Sheffield. This has since been replaced with an electrification programme that only goes as far north as Market Harborough, with “bi-mode” trains running on electricity for part of the route before switching to diesel.

East Midlands Chamber has joined calls from other bodies, including Midlands Connect, to reinstate the original scheme immediately and get on with work that is ready to go.

Scott Knowles, chief executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “Electrifying our railways is an ambitious strategy that should be welcomed across the board because it has both economic and environmental benefits that fit today’s and tomorrow’s demands.

“Electric trains are cleaner, lighter, more resilient and require less maintenance than diesel trains – which are often responsible for creating emissions hotspots around the railway stations that are supposed to signify sustainability in the transport sector.

“Not only are Network Rail’s plans consistent with the Government’s UK net zero 2050 strategy, but it would bring closer integration with HS2, including the planned East Midlands hub at Toton that remains essential to the region’s growth.

“All the planning is in place to make this happen as soon as the green light is given so now is the time to get on with it in order to deliver its benefits as soon as possible.”

The Network Rail Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy report can be read here, with the relevant sections for the East Midlands found on page (numbered page 224 in the document).

It has been issued by Network Rail to the Treasury as a programme business case for making improvements to rail infrastructure.


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