VIDEO: Faster trains get on track for Sheffield

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East Midlands Trains has launched its new timetable in the city, marking the start of faster journey times from Sheffield to London.

And South Yorkshire referee Howard Webb was on hand to blow the whistle to set the first train off down the tracks at Sheffield station yesterday.

Referee Howard Webb blows his whistle to help launch the new East Midlands' faster train service. From left , Julie Hurley, Cllr Leigh Bramall, Claire Burles and referee Howard Webb

Referee Howard Webb blows his whistle to help launch the new East Midlands' faster train service. From left , Julie Hurley, Cllr Leigh Bramall, Claire Burles and referee Howard Webb

The revised timetable is the result of a £70 million investment programme, delivered by Network Rail in partnership with East Midlands Trains, to upgrade 160 miles of track.

The upgrade means trains are now able to run at 125 mph on parts of the Midland Main Line for the first time, shaving valuable minutes off journey times.

It means that the fastest journey time from Sheffield to London will now be reduced by six minutes to two hours, whilst the average journey time will be cut by seven minutes.

The investment package has included replacing of a number of level crossings with bridges, minor re-signalling and work to realign parts of the track.

Referee Howard Webb blows his whistle to help launch the new East Midlands' faster train service

Referee Howard Webb blows his whistle to help launch the new East Midlands' faster train service

Clare Burles, HR director for East Midlands, said: “This is an exciting day for Shefield. We’re launching our new timetable, which will mean our trains running at an incredible 125mph.”

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The Midland Main Line is an important railway as it connects communities in the East Midlands and provides a key commuter route to London.

“This will bring significant social and economic benefits to the region.”

Howard, who officially dispatched the first fast train at 08.29am from platform 5, said: “Time is precious, particularly when you spend a lot of time away from home and your family – you don’t want to be away any longer than you need to be so anything that shaves a bit of time off is really beneficial.”