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25 June 2015

Essential Rail Investment at Risk: Leaders seek urgent meeting with Secretary of State

The electrification of the Midland Mainline – described by Network Rail as ‘critical to delivering a reliable and sustainable railway and tackling overcrowding’ has been ‘paused’ by the Government pending a review of Network Rail’s investment programme.

The Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin made the announcement in the House of Commons today, following the disclosure of major cost over-runs on the Great Western Line electrification – which will be completed regardless.

The announcement is a bitter disappointment to councils and businesses across the East Midlands who worked with East Midlands Councils to secure a Government commitment for the scheme back in 2012.

Cllr Jon Collins, Chair of East Midlands Councils said:

This is a devastating announcement. Electrification is crucial for our long term economic prosperity – especially given the Government’s commitment to HS2. It is particularly disappointing that cost over-runs elsewhere in the country have led to a delay in investment in our local economies – despite the strength of our business case. I along with colleagues will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State.  

Cllr Nick Rushton, East Midlands Councils Executive Board Member said:

I very much hope that the pause in the electrification will be as brief as possible – we need to get on with this and any delays will cost more money in the long run. However I welcome the Secretary of State’s confirmation that planned upgrades at Derby, Leicester and Market Harborough will continue.    

Chris Hobson from the East Midlands Chamber said:

As well as boosting connectivity between our key towns and cities, the electrification programme is a huge market opportunity for our world class transport engineering sector. The review needs to conclude quickly and with a positive outcome. Business needs certainty – not a ‘stop-start’ approach to such major investment.

Further information on Midland Mainline electrification is available from EMC’s Executive Director stuart.young@emcouncils.gov.uk.

End of text.

Notes to Editors

The Midland Mainline runs through the centre of the country; it carries more than 13 million passengers a year but when it comes to investment it's the most overlooked rail line in Britain. In recent years, over £12 billion has been spent on the rail network, but only £200 million has been spent on the Midland Mainline.

Despite having a very good punctuality record, the Midland Mainline is the slowest of any of the inter-city lines and due to continual under-investment, Midland Mainline trains are rarely able to reach their top speeds.

The Midland Mainline connects 4 of the largest cities, and one of the fastest growing areas in England, to London and each other.

Passenger numbers have increased by 130% over the last 15 years and a further 30% rise is expected in the next 10 years.

The business case remains clear for the upgrade and electrification of Midland Mainline. It would: 

  • Generate over £450 million of economic benefits to the region.
  • Mean a quicker and more reliable service; cutting the journey time between London and Sheffield by up to 15 minutes; meaning quicker services between London, Leicester, Nottingham and Derby.
  • Save the rail industry £60m per annum in running costs.
  • Slash carbon emissions.
  • Improve freight access to our rail network.

The investment is essential if this region is to have a modern, efficient rail system – and is key if we are to widen access to the proposed HS2 network.

Money has already been invested and work is underway with piling and bridge construction preparing the way for new overhead lines.

East Midlands Councils is the consultative forum for local authorities in the region. It provides support to Councils to improve their services and is a strong voice for the East Midlands. www.emcouncils.gov.uk 

Contacts

For further information please contact:

Stuart Young, Executive Director, East Midlands Councils

Tel: 01664 502620

E-mail: stuart.young@emcouncils.gov.uk  

ENDS.

All news releases from East Midlands Councils are emailed to relevant media organisations throughout the East Midlands and beyond. Please keep us up-to-date with your contact details and inform us of any changes.

All news releases can be viewed on our website at http://www.emcouncils.gov.uk/Press-releases

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