TRANSPORT Secretary Justine Greening this week acknowledged the ‘strong case’ for electrifying the railway between Sheffield and London – as civic leaders kept up the pressure.
She visited Sheffield yesterday (Wednesday) as the Government prepares to make a decision in July on whether the scheme should be included in Network Rail’s investment schedule for 2014 to 2019.
The project would cost £500m but councils and businesses along the route say it would save £60m a year in running costs and benefit firms.
Ms Greening said: “We are looking at the Midland Mainline electrification project as one of the options for investment.
“There are lots of competing proposals but I think that the Midland Main Line has a strong case behind it.”
She also said that rail improvements already approved could have knock-on benefits for South Yorkshire with newer trains potentially lined up for the area.
James Newman, chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership, and council leader Julie Dore are among 12 political and industry figures from along the route to sign a letter to the Government in support of electrification.
They say independent research shows electrification would cut journey times and pollution, reduce running costs, create more capacity for freight trains and “unlock huge potential for economic growth”.
Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg says he is “making the case to the Government” for electrification in advance of the longer-term plans for high-speed trains.