Midland Mainline electrification works are set to restart under plans announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin today.
The Secretary of State said in a letter to Network Rail that he would be ‘grateful’ if the plans could be un-paused with immediate effect and progressed with some urgency.
The electrification of the line north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby is set for 2019 and the line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Sheffield is set for 2023, at a cost of £1.6bn.
The chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, Scott Knowles, said that it was ‘disappointing’ that the project had been delayed.
Rail Minister Claire Perry praised the work of Nottinghamshire MPs Mark Spencer, Robert Jenrick and Anna Soubry, saying that local campaigns and lobbying by these members in Parliament had played a big role.
Mr Spencer said: “Claire Perry called me to let me know, and it’s great that the Government has listened to the local MPs and councillors who have been pushing to get the plans ‘un-paused’.”
“I know that Anna, Rob and I have been banging on about it at every opportunity and a delegation of councillors went down to Parliament. It will be fantastic to have the improved connection and it’s a fine example of this Government listening to us, and making things happen for people in Nottinghamshire.”
Mr Knowles did say however that this decision will allow for businesses to plan ahead.
“While the decision to ‘un-pause’ the electrification of the Midland Main Line is extremely welcome news, the Chamber is still disappointed that it will now not be fully completed until 2023, which is, in effect, a four-year delay in the project,” he said.
“The electrification of the Midlands Main Line is critical to the delivery of a modern, cost effective and reliable transport system serving the economy of the East Midlands and its central importance is highlighted by the unified approach taken by business, political and local authority leaders in campaigning to get electrification back on track.
“Today’s decision does provide the certainty which will enable businesses to plan ahead. It’s now crucial that this scheme is delivered as planned, with no further delays.”
Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, said in a statement: “The temporary pause in the programme has given us the space to develop a better plan for passengers. People can expect more services and faster journeys. We face some difficult challenges, and there is more work still to do, but the secretary of state’s decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify TransPennine and Midland Main Line.