ELECTRIFICATION of the Midland Main Line is set to be extended from Kettering North Junction to Market Harborough station.
Transport minister Andrew Jones told the House of Commons that ’Network Rail has been instructed to design an extension of electrification infrastructure’.
The MP for Harborough, Neil O’Brien, asked the question which revealed that a design is now being drawn up.
Mr O’Brien said: ‘This is great news. I’ve been making the case for this to the Department for Transport for a number of months and I’m pleased to see they’ve agreed with the strength of the case put forward. While nothing is guaranteed, it is a big leap forwards that they are now drawing up a detailed design.’
He continued: ‘I have pointed out to ministers that the power supply for electrification north of Bedford will be at Braybrooke. Rather than running an expensive cable connection south from Braybrooke to overhead wires that end in Kettering, it would make more long-term sense to extend the planned overhead wires up all the way into Market Harborough.’
Transport minister Andrew Jones added: ‘At Outline Business Case stage in March 2018 this was determined to be the best value for money option for making the power supply connection. In line with normal practice, this will be tested again when the overall Midland Main Line programme Key Output 1a, of which Market Harborough electrification is a constituent part, is assessed at Full Business Case stage.’
The Railway Industry Association and Midlands Connect have both said the extension is welcome.
RIA technical director David Clarke said: ‘As this decision shows, electrification is clearly the optimal solution for intensively used rail lines, and the Railway Industry Association’s Electrification Cost Challenge, due to be published next week, will show how we can deliver schemes even more cost effectively in future. We look forward to working further with Government to deliver a rolling programme of electrification, once the report is published.’
Midlands Connect director Maria Machancoses added: ‘Extending Midland Main Line electrification from Kettering to the national grid supply point at Market Harborough is the first step towards giving the East Midlands the transport infrastructure it deserves.
‘The next steps include extending electrification to Leicester, Toton and Nottingham, to support Midlands Connect’s ambition for direct conventional compatible HS2 services between Leicester and Leeds and Nottingham and Leeds, via Toton.
‘We are developing a business case for these links in collaboration with HS2 Ltd, and will continue to work closely with Transport for the East Midlands, other regional partners and the Department for Transport to ensure positive discussions continue.’