Electric dreams for main railway route

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MPS based along the main railway line between Sheffield and London have called for the route to be electrified.

They want the project to be included in the next five-year plan of major rail improvements, due for publication in July.

Sheffield MPs were among those due to take part in a debate in the House of Commons late last night supporting the £500 million upgrade.

Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge said: “As Sheffield MPs, we have always been lobbying for this project and wanted to show our support.”

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, added: “As well as electrification, there also need to be improvements made to the track so trains can run at full speed.”

Electrification could cut journey times from Sheffield to London by 14 minutes, bring quieter and greener trains and reduce operating costs.

The debate was called after Nicky Morgan, Tory MP for Loughborough, obtained 20 signatures from MPs along the route, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Lib Dem MP for Hallam.

Mr Clegg said: “I have been a long standing advocate of electrifying the Midland Mainline, as it would bring many benefits to Sheffield and the wider region in terms of faster journeys, greener trains and better connections.”

The Government has promised to consider MPs’ views when decisions are made about Network Rail’s 2014-19 investment plan.

Although electrification will cost £500 million, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and East Midlands councils say it could save £60 million a year on operating costs. Electricity is a cheaper fuel, while maintenance costs would be lower.

The report claims speedier journeys could also benefit the economies of each city along the line to the tune of tens of millions of pounds.

Electrification is supported by East Midlands Trains and the Rail Freight Group, which represents freight operators. Faster trains would create more ‘paths’ for additional services, which Maggie Simpson, Rail Freight Group policy manager, said were needed due to growing demand.