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Councillor: ‘Government treating us like ‘toy train set’ over Midland Main Line electrification’

A council leader says the Government is treating Nottinghamshire like ‘a toy train set’ with a lack of certainty on when the area will benefit from electrification.

The Department for Transport announced that work to electrify the Midland Main Line between Kettering and Market Harborough will commence on 24 December.

The investment represents what has been described as the largest modernisation of the railways since Victorian times, with more efficient, cleaner, and flexible trains.

But Cllr John Clarke (Lab), leader of Gedling Borough Council, says there are still no dates on when Nottingham and Nottinghamshire will benefit.

He said: “This should have been done years ago. They think it is like a toy train set the way they are playing with us. You have three major cities – Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.

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“They manufacture trains in Derby and a lot of the workforce live in Nottingham, so I am surprised we have not got the links yet. We are always the support act.”

His feelings have been shared by Cllr Milan Radulovic (Lab), leader of Broxtowe Borough Council.

He said: “I want to see some acceleration now. I will be calling in the New Year for the Government to start it in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire because there has been no date set for it here yet.

“We need clarity and certainty so we can plan for the future.”

Scott Knowles, chief executive for East Midlands Chamber, which supports businesses within Nottinghamshire, said it was “fantastic to see some real progress” on the project but that “we can’t afford to waste any time.”

He added: “After the huge disappointment of the HS2 Eastern Leg being scaled back significantly, once more leaving the East Midlands at risk of being structurally disadvantaged compared to the west of the country, this is a great opportunity for the Department for Transport to demonstrate it is serious about delivering much-needed infrastructure in our region.

“However, it must be remembered that we were promised upgrades to this key rail route many years ago and we are merely playing catch-up.

“This is also just the first small step of a major project, so it’s important we now have a full timetable and clear milestones for the delivery of the entire Midland Main Line electrification.”

The Department for Transport said main works to electrify the Midland Main Line between Kettering and Market Harborough will start on December 24, laying the foundation for the planned upgrade of the line all the way to Sheffield and Nottingham.

It will also be setting “the starting gun” for quieter trains, greater decarbonisation, better connectivity and more local services across the region.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:  “Last month, I promised we would get on with delivering the Integrated Rail Plan by Christmas and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“Today marks the beginning of a transformation of rail journeys for the Midlands and the North, where we will slash journey times and build better connections between towns, cities and everywhere in between.

“Under our plans, people won’t have to wait two decades for better services. This unprecedented investment will deliver better railways sooner.”

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