Midland Main Line Electrification: Cancelled

20 July 2017

Leaders in the East Midlands have reacted with dismay to the news that the electrification of the Midland Main Line has been cancelled – and have asked for an urgent meeting with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and the Chair of Midlands Connect Sir John Peace.

The cancellation comes less than two years after the previous Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin gave the scheme the final go ahead after it had been first paused then pushed back.

In a statement made on the last day before the Parliamentary recess, Chris Grayling confirmed that whilst the line from London to Kettering would be electrified by 2019, and a section between Clay Cross in Derbyshire and Sheffield will be electrified by 2033 to allow HS2 trains to serve the city – plans to complete electrification through Derby, Leicester and Nottingham have been cancelled.

Instead the Government wants to explore the potential of using ‘bi mode’ rolling stock and ‘alternative technologies’ to achieve benefits similar to high speed electric trains – although it is not clear how these services would be compatible with HS2.

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, Chair of Transport for the East Midlands said:

“This is hugely disappointing news for people and businesses across the East Midlands. This was investment that had been promised and re-promised by successive ministers. The cancellation undermines public confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver major transport investment – and I am afraid people will be rightly sceptical about further promises of ‘jam tomorrow’.”

Cllr Jon Collins, Chair of the East Midlands HS2 Strategic Board said:

“Electrification of the Midland Main Line through the East Midlands is crucial to our vision for integrating HS2 into the existing rail network – and in particular for securing a connection with the HS2 line to enable direct high speed services between Leicester and Leeds. It is not at all clear that the alternatives to HS2 classic compatible trains can achieve the same level of performance.”

Cllr Kay Cutts MBE, Member of the EMC Executive Board said:

“Governments cannot keep chopping and changing like this. We must have consistency and certainty if we are to plan effectively for the future and persuade business to invest in our economies. If new technologies are the answer then we need to know they will work now, and to have some clarity about how and when they can be delivered. I hope this is not another example of the East Midlands being disadvantaged in favour of the south of the country."

The MML announcement was made as part of the launch of the Government’s consultation on priorities for the next East Midlands Rail Franchise which will run from August 2019 for up to 10 years.

Cllr Roger Blaney, EMC Lead for the Franchise competition said:

“The consultation will help to shape train services across the East Midlands for the next decade. It is bad news on electrification, but it remains very important that councils, businesses and other organizations make well-argued representations on the future pattern of rail services. We will be publishing a draft regional response as soon as possible to highlight some key principles which we hope others can also support and reflect in their own comments.”

End of text. 

MML Electrification Cancellled July 2017

Notes to Editors

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

East Midlands Councils provides the secretariat for Transport for the East Midlands (TfEM) which brings together lead members for the nine local transport authorities within the East Midlands.

Brief History of Midland Main Line Electrification 

Midland Main Line electrification was first proposed in the 1970s but only the southern section from London to Bedford was ever implemented.  

Plans to electrify the rest of the line were eventually abandoned by the Government in the 1980s.

There was renewed interest in electrification the early 2000s due to the scale of reductions in running costs, carbon emissions and air pollution that could be achieved – as well as improved train performance.

Network Rail undertook an assessment that suggested that the MML had the best electrification business case of any of the remaining main lines into London, but in 2009 then Transport Secretary Lord Adonis decided to prioritise the Great Western Line (GWL) to Wales and the west-country instead.

Following a vigorous regional campaign, Justine Greening announced in 2012 that MML electrification from Bedford to Sheffield would be completed by 2020. 

However in 2015 the project was ‘paused’ by Patrick McLoughlin pending the outcome of the Hendy Review into cost over-runs in a number of other rail enhancements – most notably GWL electrification.  The MML project was subsequently re-instated but completion pushed back to 2023. 

In July 2017 Chris Grayling decided to cancel the uncommitted elements of the MML electrification scheme, leaving a gap between Kettering and Clay Cross.


For further information please contact:

Andrew Pritchard, Director of Policy & Infrastructure, East Midlands Councils

Tel: 01664 502641

Mob: 07795 060943

E-mail: andrew.pritchard@emcouncils.gov.uk    


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