Electrification to Midland Mainline route ‘paused’ by Government

The Government has shelved plans to electrify the route from Sheffield to London.

The Government has shelved plans to electrify the route from Sheffield to London.

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Plans to electrify a rail route which links Chesterfield and surrounding towns with London have been shelved.

The proposals to upgrade the Midland Mainline have been ‘paused’ by the Government after Network Rail admitted it had been ‘overly optimistic’ about completing the five-year rail improvement plan on time.

MP Patrick McLoughlin.

MP Patrick McLoughlin.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who is MP for the Derbyshire Dales, says rising costs and missed targets make the £38.5bn plan untenable.

He also said that electrification work would be “paused” on the Midland Mainline and blamed Network Rail, saying it should have foreseen the improvements would cost more and take longer.

The East Midlands Chamber has expressed its ‘disappointment’ at the announcement.

Chris Hobson, who is head of information and representation at the Chamber said: “The Chamber is extremely disappointed and frustrated that the electrification of the Midlands Main Line will not go ahead as planned.

“It is disappointed that the original plans couldn’t be delivered on time or budget and frustrated that this key project isn’t being given the priority that the success of the region demands.

“The Transport Secretary, whose constituency is in the East Midlands, has said, however, that the project is still part of his plans.

“The Government must now clarify exactly when it will be delivered.”

Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne made a statement earlier this week saying that all projects under the rail improvement plan would now be ‘revisited.’

He said: “It has become clear that Network Rail signed up to highly ambitious five-year targets set by the regulator.

“Based on historic improvements from a low base, we were overly optimistic about the capacity of our company.

“On the big items like electrification and capital projects, it was always part of the regulatory process that the costs and programme would be revisited as projects became properly defined.”