County Council on board to helping get a better rail service for Nottinghamshire passengers and businesses
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE County Council is calling for future improvements to be made to East Midlands Trains to benefit more local passengers and businesses - including once again seeking Government commitment and funding for the reopening of the Shirebrook-Ollerton line.
These calls are in response to a consultation by the Department of Transport to help shape long-term improvements to the East Midlands rail franchise, one of the four franchises which serve Nottinghamshire.
Councillors also reiterated their disappointment in the Government’s decision to cancel the electrification of the Midland Main Line. (MML) It is a view shared across the Council with all-party agreement to call upon the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision as a matter of urgency.
Councillor John Cottee, committee chairman for the Community and Place Committee said:
“The news to cancel MML comes less than two years after this frequently-delayed scheme was originally given the go-ahead.
“We think this is a short-sighted approach as the proposed replacement bi-mode trains – designed to run on both existing lines and electric lines - represent a poor replacement and are not environmentally friendly.
“The Government's decision to cancel electrification of the MML, while continuing to fund the £30 billion Crossrail two project in London, is particularly unfair to this region.”
Councillors discussed these rail issue at today’s Community and Place Committee (Thursday October 5) and agreed that the County Council should add its voice to the consultation by;
• Pressing the Government to make a formal commitment to fund the proposed reopening of the passenger railway line from Shirebrook to Ollerton as well as overseeing the remaining feasibility work worth around £1m. This project would involve the reopening of two former railway stations at Edwinstowe and Warsop as well as creating a new station at Ollerton, estimated to cost around £20m, with £1m running costs per year.
• Calling for better facilities so that all the County’s stations are fully accessible for all rail users. This would require more station investment funding from Government to provide step-free access to help people with disabilities.
• Supporting the Department of Transport’s proposal to transfer some East Midlands Train routes to different franchise to allow more competition. It is hoped that fresh bidders would offer new services and offer more resource to restore older trains. This support is given on the understanding that any changes would directly benefit Nottinghamshire residents and businesses.
Councillor Cottee explains:
“We always look for ways to secure improvements to our local rail services as we are keen that people across Nottinghamshire get the rail service they deserve.
"East Midlands Trains, as the name suggests is a vital service for us, but there is room for improvements. This is why we have identified the need for better journey times to regional and local centres, more frequent services and more efficient connections.
“This consultation has also highlighted the ongoing issue with the proposed reopening of the Shirebrook-Ollerton line for passengers. It is already used as a freight line and a test track, and so already connects to the existing passenger railway on the Robin Hood line between Nottingham and Worksop. Improvements to rail links in this part of our county are much-needed to help boost the local economy by creating better access to jobs and local tourism sites.
“So today, we have agreed that we must urge the Government again to take the lead and identify funding to make this new passenger line a reality, as well as agreeing to fund the ongoing running costs.
“This Council has already funded £200,000 towards an initial feasibility study into the scheme. And given the many difficult decisions all local authorities need to make when it comes to our budgets, we feel it is only right that an infrastructure investment of this size is met by Government funding sources.
“Although the issue of the MML cancellation isn’t formally part of this particular Department of Transport consultation, we want to take every opportunity we can to raise this issue so we will be reporting back on this too, particularly given the repercussions this decision will have for our county and region.”
East Midlands Rail Franchise is one of the four franchises which serve the County and currently offers 470 services each weekday with 26 million annual passenger journeys made. The franchises are Cross Country, East Coast and Northern
For more details of the Department of Transport’s consultation:
To read the Council’s response in full go to: http://tinyurl.com/yca64guy