Council leads calls to electrify railway lines through Chesterfield

Rail bosses have been urged to electrify railway lines to Chesterfield as a priority.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 11:19 am

Leading figures spoke out after the Governnment announced a £400 million programme of investment in Britain’s railways – and confirmed electrification of the full Midland Main Line between London and Sheffield, via Chesterfield, was back on the table, having been shelved in 2018, following the launch of new electric train services on the southern end of the route.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Further electrification of the MML to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield is being examined by the department and Network Rail and is at an early stage of development.”

The news has been welcomed by leading figures in the borough, as key to tackling carbon emissions from traditional diesel trains, as well as improving journey times and attracting investment

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Coun Tricia Gilby, Chesterfield Council leader, said: “I welcome the announcement that electrification of the whole MML is back under active consideration, but want to see more detail from the Government and, given the prior works on this project, it should be something delivered as a priority.

HS2 and the DfT have a commitment to electrify the stretch between Clay Cross and Sheffield station as critical infrastructure to deliver HS2 East to Chesterfield and Sheffield. There is a strong and viable business case for this.

“Tying this section into further electrification works on the MML is something the borough needs.

“Work done prior to the project’s cancellation should make this something which can move quicker than similar projects and help redress the chasm between infrastructure investment in the East Midlands and the rest of the country.

Chesterfield railway station.

“Taking out the need for bi-mode diesel-electric trains is important in the context of carbon reduction and we hope this time the MML will be fully electrified to yield the economic benefits of today’s rail network and combine them with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities from HS2 East.

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‘Ambitious’ plans to improve station area

“We have plans to enhance the area around the station, which will further cement the importance of rail connections to our borough. These ambitious plans will create a more inviting station area to welcome visitors and improvements to cycling, pedestrian and public transport routes, making onward journeys easier.

Coun Tricia Gilby, Chesterfield Council leader, outside the town's railway station.

Chesterfield Waterside is another key development that shows the importance of this area to the future of Chesterfield. It will create jobs and houses close to the station. Better infrastructure on the line will make this area even more attractive to commuters and businesses.

“Together these developments, upgrades and HS2 East will strengthen our connections to the rest of the country and transform Chesterfield station into a leading business and visitor destination, which will help strengthen and grow our economy.”

And Chesterfield resident Peter Kennan, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s transport forum chairman, said: ‘Trying to secure the electrification of the MML to Chesterfield and Sheffield is a key part of the plans for rail investment in the region.

“The project would create jobs during construction and switching to electric from diesel helps with achieving decarbonisation targets and also cuts emissions.

Peter Kennan, chairman of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce & Industry's transport forum.

The ‘sparks effect’ is well known. Electric trains are lighter and can accelerate faster as a result. This cuts journey times and drives up passenger use.

“It also gives a stimulus to inward investment and helps achieve greener, more inclusive growth of the economy.”

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