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East Midlands Chamber News

Midland Main Line non-electrification bad for region

Government is wrong not to electrify the Midland Main Line railway all the way through the East Midlands, the biggest business-representation organisation in the region has said.

The announcement this morning that trains used on the route will have both diesel and electric power units is not good news for the area, according to the Chamber.

Scott Knowles“Once again, the East Midlands is being disadvantaged as a consequence of a London-centric focus on the rail network,” said Scott Knowles, the Chamber’s Chief Executive.

He said: “Recently, we were told that some of our services to and from London will be slower in future because priority is being given to Thameslink Trains on shared routes.

“Not that long ago we were told the Midland Main Line would be electrified all the way to Sheffield. This would improve services because electric trains accelerate and brake more efficiently than heavier diesels and the enhanced operation would give scope for more services to run.

“Then electrification was paused because of the cost, then “unpaused”, but now seems to be off the table altogether beyond Kettering.

“The ‘bi-mode’ trains that the Government now appears to favour will be heavier than existing stock because they have two powertrains, accelerate more slowly and take longer to stop. They’ll also have to stop for longer at Kettering as they switch from one power source to the other, so we will have a worse service than now.

“And today’s announcement seems to fly in the face of the announcement earlier this week that electric HS2 trains will run on existing Midland Main Line tracks through Chesterfield and Sheffield, so that part of the track is going to have to be electrified.

“That means there will be only a 70-mile stretch between Kettering and Chesterfield that won’t be electrified, and that doesn’t make economic sense.”

Scott added: “In the East Midlands we make more than anywhere else in the country, we have the strongest economy and lowest unemployment outside London and the South East.

“We have a very strong central location and we need and deserve the best possible connectivity, not just on north-south routes but also east-west.

“East Midlands Trains provides a quality service and will do its utmost to continue to provide the best service it can but under less than ideal circumstances when compared to the wider rail network.”