Friday, October 21, 2016

Trouble ahead on the Midland main line

The delay in the electrification of the Midland main line from St Pancras is going to cause problems.

In the summer of 2015 the government announced a pause in the project. It was soon restarted, but that good news was accompanied by the news that it will take four years longer than originally planned.

The electrification will reach now Kettering and Corby by 2019, and be extended to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield (and, indeed, Market Harborough) by 2023.

This will cause problems. East Midlands Trains, which runs the service on this line, is due to phase out its High Speed Trains by 2020.

A press release from Leicestershire County Council calls on the government to order new 125mph bi-mode trains that can use diesel or electric power, so they can still be used when the line is electrified.

In a spirit of bipartisanship, it also quotes Sir Peter Soulsby, the elected Mayor of Leicester:
“Replacing high speed trains with slower, second-hand stock is simply unacceptable. The government needs to offer an assurance that that the high speed trains due to be withdrawn in 2020 will be replaced with stock of equivalent or better specification."
But I doubt we will see those new trains. With money being poured into HS2, corners will have to be cut elsewhere.

If you add to that the fact that the opening of HS2 will lead to fewer trains on the Midland main line, there is clearly trouble ahead.


Stephen Barker said...

Since the HSTs have already done 40 years of sevice I should imagine with a little TLC they could be kept going for a few more years and notch up 50 years in service !

Jonathan Calder said...

Let's hope they do.

Frank Little said...

This seems a similar story to that of the Great Western line to Swansea. If memory serves, the plan under the coalition was to complete the electrification by 2018. The Hitachi train sheds at Landore, Swansea, have already been built. Since the change of government, there has already been one check to the programme, causing the Transport minister to amend the original order from electric to bi-mode trains. Now we learn that Network Rail is aiming at a completion date of 2024.