Posted 28th October 2009 | 9 Comments

Electrification: Midland Main Line goes to the head of the queue

Network Rail has published a wide ranging set of proposals for electrification. The plan is the most ambitious of its kind for nearly 30 years.

The Midland Main Line has moved centre stage, following the DfT's approval of Great Western electrification in July.

Network Rail says Midland electrification would now yield a positive benefit: in other words, the railway and the nation would be worse off if the work was not done.

Network Rail's stance on electrification has become more positive since the draft of this RUS was published in the spring. NR is no longer suggesting widespread electrification: it is now urging it, in the interests both of railway passengers and the environment.

However, Network Rail's proposals will place further financial pressure on Ministers, who are already facing budget restraints.

Meanwhile, early reactions from around the industry have been favourable.

East Midlands Trains, which is the principal passenger operator between Bedford and Sheffield, said: "We are extremely supportive of any plans that would allow faster journey times on our main line route. We know this is a key priority for our passengers, and in December 2008, we made some significant journey time improvements with journeys between Sheffield and London improved by up to 14 minutes, and between Derby and London by up to ten minutes. This is a clear demonstration of our continuing commitment, and we welcome any plans that would help us to bring further improvements.”

ATOC Chief Executive Michael Roberts also welcomed the plans. “Proposals to electrify more lines are good news for passengers, taxpayers and the environment. Electric trains are better for the environment and bring lower costs, better reliability and more capacity as well as shorter journey times. These are all key factors in helping to improve the value for money that passengers are calling for," he said. He added that the RUS backed up the "already overwhelmingly strong case for further electrification", and concluded: "We must get on and deliver it."

SPECIAL FEATURE: Has network electrification come of age at last?

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Geoff R, Westhoughton, UK

    Nu Labour have had 12 years to make this announcement and the work wont start until well after the next election.So, dont be surprised when Labour are destroyed at the next election and the new (expected Tory) government suddenly announce the inevitable cuts, that, yes, rail improvement plans are given the boot. Even if Labour beat the odds and win the election does anybody really believe that the work will be carried out er....No, i dont think so. Labour will get trashed, the new lot will cancel the work and the Labour opposition will vilify them for cancelling. Oh so bloody predictable.

  • Kris, Bournemouth

    Where do the Meridian (and HST ) units go? Salisbury - for express work on the South Western main lines. Already in the correct livery and refurbished - just change the lettering. Then we could go back to Paignton & Plymouth after December - when we are due to lose these routes. We could even open the SWT Exeter satellite depot and Network Rail can spend some of those billions re-doubling the track to Exeter. I can dream ....

  • G Steel, Northampton, United Kingdom

    Why not electrify to Leeds and Doncaster to link in with the existing electrified routes. To stop it at Sheffield is illogical and it shows just how projects appear to be route orientated without regard for the bigger picture. Traditionally the MML has generally ended at Sheffield.

    Maybe Electrification is on the agenda again because the General Election is just around the corner rather than it being part of a coordinated strategy to electrify the network and to reduce carbon emissions which policitions would want us to believe.

  • Anthony Simkins, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

    Let's hope that Chesterfield gets platform 3 as well as the electrification. Maybe finally the Midland Mainline will see some decent improvements.

  • Joseph Pestell, Newbury

    I have not looked at the numbers on this but:
    If Midland Main Line is electrified, where do the Meridian units go to? Would there be enough of them to run the Great Western services to Plymouth and Cornwall? A train made up from two short Meridians could split at Plymouth with only half going forward to Penzance. I have always thought it odd that whole HSTs dawdle down through Cornwall when they could be earning so much more running full of passengers elsewhere.
    If so, there may be no need for the incredibly expensive (and rather slow) hybrid units currently proposed for "off-the-wires" running. That would make the GW electrification project much cheaper.



  • David Brede, Northampton, UK

    Would like to see East Midlands Trains exploiting its route a great deal more than it is. More trains direct to Lincoln, Melton Mowbray, perhaps resurrecting the Thames - Clyde Express.

  • Brian Eastwood, Richmond VA, USA

    About thirty years ago British Rail presented a case for comprehensive electrification to the Treasury and the Department of Transport who each dismissed each of the several options in the report out of hand. The case for electrification was as strong then as it is now. None of the arguments which it is now politically correct to advance is new. The tragedy is that we could have achieved electrification of most of the network since that time at a much lower construction cost and that the accumulated direct and indirect financial savings would have paid for the cost of the programme over the same period.
    And the Treasury and Departmental mandarins think they know best. The are the enemies of the British social fabric, not its custodian.

  • Joel Kosminsky, London, Britain

    At last! Odd that Railtrack insisted "no business case" for electrification... What's the tipping point into "a positive benefit: in other words, the railway and the nation would be worse off if the work was not done" ? Something like making [lots of] money? The case for cleaner, greener traction has always been there [next step trolleybuses back on our streets?]; resisting capital spend is the misery of our penny-pinching culture.