Faster rail journey times between Derbyshire and London are something which would certainly be welcomed in Amber Valley by commuters and businesses alike. I’ve been making representations on this issue since being elected and the campaign to upgrade the Midland Mainline (MML) has been building momentum in recent months with local businesses, newspapers and residents all turning up the heat.
Anyone who has experienced the MML in recent years will know how long journeys between the East Midlands and London can take. A direct journey from Langley Mill takes 2 hours and 10 minutes, and even from Derby it’s 1 hour and 40 minutes, whereas from Tamworth it’s around an hour and Newark around 1 hour 20 minutes.
The issue of the MML upgrade and electrification was recently debated in Parliament in a debate which had been secured by my colleague Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough. The debate follows the publication of Network Rail’s Initial Industry Plan for England and Wales and comes in advance of the Government’s decision on whether to fund investment in the MML. In July, the Government is due to announce which rail projects it intends to fund between 2014 and 2019.
I welcome this debate as the upgrade and electrification of the MML has rumbled on for a number of years. Here’s what I said:
“I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend on securing this important debate. Does she agree that the one disadvantage for the East Midlands is that people can get to London so much faster by driving to Tamworth and taking the west coast main line, or over to Grantham or Newark to take the East Coast main line? If we could get east midland main line trains up to the right speed, we could lose all those wasted car journeys too.”
Even in this climate of budget restraint a compelling case can be made for the upgrade and electrification of the MML. Independent research commissioned by engineering consultants, ARUP supports the case and suggests that the upgrade and electrification of the MML could:
- reduce the cost of the railway by up £60 million per annum;
- lead to journey time savings of up to 14 minutes between London and Sheffield;
- cut carbon emissions by 11,000 tonnes per annum;
- create hundreds of jobs during construction;
- result in £450 million of wider economic benefits over the appraisal period
Replying to this debate the Transport Minister, Theresa Villiers, said the Government was aware of the strength of the business case and would therefore “take very seriously the representations made in this debate and the numerous representations that the Department have received on the benefits to be gained environmentally and economically from electrifying and upgrading the Midland Main Line”.
I, along with my colleagues, will continue to lobby the Department of Transport and press the case for MML upgrade and electrification.