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Mayor Dave: Government Scrapping of Rail Electrification Means 'More Pain, Less Gain'

July 21, 2017 4:38 PM

A 'meridian' train in East Midlands Trains liveryThe Government has announced the cancellation of the project to electrify the full length of the Midland Mainline, despite huge disruption having been suffered by local communities in Bedford Borough already, with more to come.

Local communities on and in the vicinity of the Midland Mainline north of Bedford have had to put up with extraordinary noise and traffic disruption for a project to electrify the line through to Sheffield, meaning only cleaner, quieter, fully electric trains would run on the line. Now it has said there will be no further electrification north of Kettering.

There is further disruption to come locally, however, with the truncated project to electrify the line to Kettering requiring the short term closure of Ford End Road Bridge and Bromham Road Bridge in Bedford, both of which are on major routes in the Bedford road network.

Commenting, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "Local communities in Bedford Borough have already suffered huge disruption, and in return the Government is cancelling the project and will leave it unfinished to the north. There's more pain to come, too, with road closures on key routes due in Bedford as bridges are closed to allow for electrification. So it's more pain, less gain, as the project won't now be delivering the promised benefits of a fully electrified line."

Responding to the government promise of diesel/electric 'hybrid' trains on the line by 2022, Mayor Dave added: "Hybrid trains could mean quieter and cleaner running through the Borough, but it remains to be seen whether this will be yet another broken promise too."

The announcement was snuck out in a statement yesterday, and means that a longstanding pledge to electrify the whole line through to Sheffield, enabling the use of fully electric trains, has been broken.

The government announcement follows a long period of delay caused by the Conservative government 'pausing' the project which had been confirmed during the previous coalition government.

Prior to the pause, the project had already caused vast disruption for rural communities in Bedford Borough. Extensive, often extraordinarily noisy works at all hours of the day and night took place on bridges to enable electrification, with associated road closures taking place over considerable periods.