Thursday, July 20, 2017

Government announces that the Midland main line will not be electrified north of Kettering

We will see more disappointing news like this around the country as HS2 eats up all the funding for rail investment.
That's what I wrote last December when it was announced that planned access improvement at Market Harborough station were to be postponed.

Reading between the lines of that post, it should already have been clear that today's announcement that there will be no electrification of the Midland main line north of Kettering was inevitable.

The transport minister Paul Maynard had declined to confirm that work north of Kettering would take place. 

And BBC News had quoted his boss Chris Grayling:
He said that rather than passengers from Northamptonshire having to board trains coming from the further north down to London, they would have a service originating from Corby and Kettering.
So services on the Midland will be operated by hybrid trains that use the overhead wires from St Pancras to Kettering and then switch to diesel to get to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.

The photograph below was taken in Kibworth Beauchamp (between Market Harborough and Leicester) and shows work being carried out to rebuild a road bridge to give room for overhead electrification to be installed on the railway.

This was done to numerous bridges north of Kettering and now turns out to have been a waste of money.

What appears to have happened is that the electrification of the Great Western line took too long and cost too much, with the result that the government felt it had to postpone the work on the Midland.

That in turn meant that the government was going to have to order hybrid diesel-electric trains to run on the Midland.

And if they had those, reasoned the government, then there was no need to electrify the line north of Kettering at all.

Note, incidentally, how intimately the government is involved in the running of our 'privatised' railways.

The railways had far more autonomy in the days of the nationalised British Rail.


David said...

As so often our infra structure is the victim of mean penny pinching approach which creates short term compromise fixes rather than long term solid solutions. Only a mad person would put their money on fossil fuels transporting goods and people by the later or even mid - 21st Century on rail (or ROAD!) - so double wastage is taking place. Firstly on work already done preparatory on bridges etc. Secondly now on a fleet of rolling stock that is already out of date before it starts rolling! As for the Continent - Hi Speed is on its 2nd and 3rd generation with even faster, more green, more economical and luxurious travel evolving. I must say if you want to live in the contemporary present - emigrate to Europe. Britain is a museum piece still interpreting Dunkirk as some sort of military victory rather than the good hiding it actually was. Laughing stock READ Hybrid diesel/electric Rolling Stock! Where did that come from? India?

Frank Little said...

As the editor of Modern Railways has pointed out, the decision shifts the cost from the debt-ridden nationalised Network Rail to the train operating companies. It reduces capital expenditure at the price of increasing running costs.