The government is to partially revive its previously scrapped plan to electrify the Midland Main Line.
Electrification of the line will now be extended north of Kettering to Market Harborough. This is around 20km further north than the point at which the electrification work was to stop when it was scrapped by transport secretary Chris Grayling in July 2017.
The electrification project from Kettering to Sheffield was scrapped, after Grayling claimed that new bi-mode – electric and diesel – train technology would offer the same benefits as electrification without the cost.
However, the government has performed a partial U-turn on the project with rail minister Andrew Jones announcing the extension from Kettering to Market Harborough in response to a question by Harborough MP Neil O’Brien on whether electrification would be considered.
The overhead line equipment (OLE) extension to Market Harborough will enable a new National Grid connection to a power supply at Braybrooke, north of Kettering and near Market Harborough.
The Railway Industry Association (RIA) technical director David Clarke welcomed the announcement saying it supported the keeping of electrification on the table for future enhancement projects.
“As this decision shows, electrification is clearly the optimal solution for intensively used rail lines, and the RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge, due to be published next week, will show how we can deliver schemes even more cost effectively in future,” he said.
“We look forward to working further with government to deliver a rolling programme of electrification, once the report is published”.
Midlands Connect director Maria Machancoses added that it was the “first step towards giving the East Midlands the transport infrastructure it deserves”.
“The next steps include extending electrification to Leicester, Toton and Nottingham, to support Midlands Connect’s ambition for direct conventional compatible High Speed 2 services between Leicester and Leeds and Nottingham and Leeds, via Toton,” she said.
A 90km long stretch of the line to Sheffield will still not be electrified after it emerged in August 2017 that the section from Clay Cross into Sheffield city centre would still have to be electrified to accommodate High Speed 2 which will share the line.
Preparatory works for the electrification of that 25km long section of the line started in July last year.
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