AreaThe counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire, together with the unitary authority of Rutland and the cities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.
Trent Junction: the heart of the East Midlands rail network
- Open Branch Meeting, all members welcome: Saturday 26th January 2019, from 13:30 to 15:30; East Midlands Parkway First Class Lounge. Preceded by Committee Meeting from 12:00 to 13:00.
- Branch AGM: Saturday 23rd March 2019; Mansfield Central Library; time tbc.
- Open Branch Meeting (all members welcome) preceded by Committee Meeting: April or May 2019; date, time and venue tbc.
- Open Branch Meeting (all members welcome) preceded by Committee Meeting: July or August 2019; date, time and venue tbc.
- Free-form railway conversation: August 2019; date tbc; from 12:00; the Canalhouse, Nottingham.
- Open Branch Meeting (all members welcome) preceded by Committee Meeting: September or October 2019; date, time and venue tbc.
- Pre-Christmas get-together: December 2019; date tbc; from 12:00; the Canalhouse, Nottingham.
Local Rail User GroupsSome of the Rail User Groups in the East Midlands are mentioned in the text below. Others may be found on Railfuture's Regional List of Rail User Groups. The Regional List can be downloaded in PDF format here.
The Importance of the East MidlandsThe East Midlands is a region of England centred around the Dynamic Triangle of the cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby. Each city has its own particular character and strengths, while the three are collectively surrounded by an area rich and diverse in both cultural heritage and natural beauty. Understandably but sadly, this delightful microcosm of England has tended to be overlooked for the purposes of public funding in comparison with more homogenous regions. This is particularly unfortunate because the East Midlands is of strategic importance to the British economy. Business leaders are attracted by its central position, with the skills sets and easy-on-the-ear accents of its population a bonus. Its transport links provide connectivity not only within and with the region, but between places which are both outside it. Our campaigning imperative is to secure for the East Midlands' railways the recognition and the investment they deserve!
Campaign SuccessesWe have had some notable campaign successes in recent years. The Ivanhoe Line, providing stopping services between Loughborough and Leicester, is now a well-established part of the local commuter and shopper infrastructure. An additional mainline station at East Midlands Parkway now serves surrounding rural communities and East Midlands Airport. Corby now has a new station and regular through services to London, with double track reinstated on the previously singled line from Kettering. Loughborough Station now has full-length platforms and a pleasant ambience to its approach (although the 2012 Olympics must claim at least some of the credit for this!). There is now a faster and more frequent service on the Castle Line between Nottingham and Newark, and the attractive 1846 listed Newark Castle Station building is back in railway use. Ilkeston Station was finally opened on 2nd April 2017, after a lengthy saga involving great crested newts and car park plan modifications. And station facilities at Market Harborough are now being upgraded to meet the expectations of modern travellers, in conjunction with track straightening in the area.
An Incomplete Campaign Success: ElectrificationFor many years we campaigned for the electrification of the Midland Main Line. This is now scheduled by Network Rail to go ahead from Bedford to Corby via Kettering by the end of 2019. At the same time as that commitment was made, electrification from Kettering to Nottingham and to Sheffield via Derby was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023. Subsequently, this plan was revised, giving only a commitment to 'continue with the development work'. The total cancellation of electrification north of Kettering in the Leicester direction in the summer of 2017 is a result we simply refuse to accept, and we fight on, although we do accept that capacity within the industry is insufficient to deliver it on the originally promised timescale.
Current CampaignsOur current key campaign is for improvements to the North Staffordshire Line between Derby and Crewe via Stoke-on-Trent, both infrastructure and service. Local business and industry agree with us that this strategic Midlands link between East and West is shamefully under-utilised. It has massive potential as an intra- and inter-regional link for both passengers and freight, connecting, as it does, two important cities and two major railway interchanges. But it carries only local stopping services, which themselves are crying out for improvement; the hourly single-coach railcar frequently proves inadequate for the present-day needs of local people. We have nicknamed this service the Inter-City Kitty and are asking Shouldn't it be a lion? We have commissioned some artwork to illustrate this campaign, which we are making free to download in a selection of formats from here.
The Inter-City Kitty at Derby
Our campaign for the reopening to passenger traffic of the freight-only line between Leicester and Burton-upon-Trent has not been forgotten, but has been put onto the back burner while the local re-franchising process runs its course. We made it the focus of the national Railfuture Autumn Conference which we organised in Leicester in 2017. Campaigning for this line is made difficult by the ghost of the broken promises of the early 1990s, which went as far as the publication of a timetable! But we believe its star really is rising again now, as recent interest has included from the BBC Inside Out East Midlands television programme. Certainly, the need for it is greater than ever. It will bring rail services to the significant population centres of Coalville, Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Swadlincote, as well as closer to nearby rural areas, and will also serve a regional and national strategic role, strengthening links around the Dynamic Triangle and providing a diversionary route. The infrastructure improvements necessary for this purpose will enhance its potential as a route for freight, timely given the construction of the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Castle Donington.
The inconvenience of a level crossing without the benefit of trains; the people of Coalville deserve better.
We are also supporting the campaign by the Ollerton and District Economic Forum Transport Action Team to reopen the line between Shirebrook and Ollerton in Sherwood Forest. This will serve the residents of Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton, the new business parks which are growing with the help of development funds earmarked for former coalfield communities, and the Robin Hood related tourism which gives the area international significance.
Shirebrook Junction. Passenger services are needed on this track.
The Midlands as a whole has recently become the focus of much Government attention, which has given us the opportunity to highlight the current poor rail connectivity between the East and West Midlands. There is much scope for improvement to services between Leicester and Birmingham, Leicester and Coventry and Derby and Stoke-on-Trent. We are putting a greater focus on the last of these at the moment; see higher up the page for details. There is also a critical missing link; the line between Lichfield Trent Valley Station and Wichnor Junction, currently used only for freight and as a diversionary route, urgently needs regular passenger services reinstated. A bonus will be the opportunity to provide a station to serve the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas; a site of such national importance deserves top quality public transport access! The greatest beneficiaries will be the people of Lichfield, who have formed the Lichfield Rail Promotion Group, with whom we are working on this campaign. They have a petition on their website which we would ask everybody who cares to sign.
Lincolnshire is often considered to be part of the East Midlands for administrative purposes, although within Railfuture it has its own Branch. Its coastline certainly has an established tradition of being the East Midlands' coastline! With this in mind, we are contributing to the campaign for better services along the Poacher Line between Nottingham and Skegness. The recently constructed Allington Curve now allows trains to call at Grantham without implications for traffic on the East Coast Main Line. So there is also the potential for most services along this line to connect with fast services to London from Grantham.
Connectivity between the East Midlands and the North West leaves something to be desired. It could be improved by reopening the line between Matlock and Buxton. This is also an ambition of Peak Rail, who run the heritage railway between Matlock and Rowsley South, and the Friends of the Derwent Valley Line, the user group associated with what is currently a branch line between Derby and Matlock. We are working with these two groups to advance this campaign.
In principle, we welcome the planned extension to HS2 through the East Midlands. From the start, we have campaigned for the Hub station to be located alongside the existing East Midlands Parkway station. We still believe that the ready-made connectivity to the rest of the network which this would deliver would maximise the benefits to pre-existing East Midlands destinations, especially Nottingham, by facilitating through services from the high speed line like those enjoyed by East Kent destinations from HS1. However, we are following with interest the emerging plans for the development of the currently designated Toton site as a destination in its own right, and may review our stance in due course on the basis of these.
We have also identified further sections of line currently used only for freight traffic which could deliver significant enhancements to existing passenger services. Examples are the lines through Castle Donington and through Pinxton. We endeavour to 'put in a word' for these possibilities whenever it seems appropriate in wider discussions, and would be ready and willing to support groups formed to campaign for them.
The Great Central RailwayPreserved/heritage railways are not normally Railfuture's business, but the Great Central Railway is a bit special. In its heritage role it serves as an unrivalled repository of railway history, both engineering and socio-economic. But it is also an industry rated test track, and will become even more significant in this role when the two halves are rejoined at Loughborough. We maintain a good relationship with the GCR Board, and have used their premises for speaker meetings open to the general public.
Last AGMThe 2018 Branch AGM was held on 24th March at 'Greenacres' adjacent to Great Central Railway Leicester North station. It was followed by a presentation open to the public entitled 'Rail Priorities for the East Midlands' by Andrew Pritchard, Director of Policy & Infrastructure at East Midlands Councils, who is also a member of the Midlands Connect Project Team and the East Midlands HS2 Executive Team.
A Committee was elected comprising: Ariadne Tampion (Chair), Terry Holt (Vice Chair), Steve Jones (Secretary), Roger Bacon (Treasurer), Dave Shaw, Anthony Kay, Graham Nalty, Ron Steven, Chris Groome, Stephen Lloyd and Phil Thomas. Linda Mills and Ian Clark were subsequently co-opted.
Other ActivitiesThe Branch prepares responses to various rail-related consultations locally, and contributes to Railfuture's responses to various consultations of more than East Midlands significance, for example those relating to re-franchising. We aim to keep in touch with neighbouring branches on issues which cross our shared boundaries, and sometimes arrange meetings for this purpose. Several members usually attend each of the national Railfuture events: the national Conferences, Branches & Groups Day, and the national AGM. We value links with the rail industry, and take every opportunity to form and nurture these, including through attendance at trade shows. Equally, we consider links with local authorities to be important. And we aim to be ambassadors for Railfuture and advocates for rail among the general public.
Becoming Active in East Midlands BranchFirst, and most importantly, there is no expectation on you upon joining Railfuture to become active in your local Branch! We need our sleeping members; we could not do everything we do without your money! But we also need active members, and a continuous stream of new ones as old ones have to give up or reduce their activity for various reasons. In East Midlands Branch we operate a 'portfolio system', so that you can focus your energies on campaigning for a particular issue, either local to you (e.g. a station, a service) or generic (e.g. freight, ticket availability). You will be part of a regional nucleus of a national organisation, with consequent ready access to relevant information plus support both practical and moral. General-purpose active members are also welcome, especially if they are prepared to contribute to the general running of the Branch. It is not necessary to be vastly knowledgeable about railways, just to believe sincerely in the important role they can play in our society. We aspire to diversity while aiming to make best use of what is offered by every individual who comes forward. We have a long tradition of keeping our active members woven in and encouraged to contribute what they can throughout the various stages and challenges of their lives. All our venues are accessible to wheelchairs, and breastfeeding is welcome at our meetings. To find out more about us, come along to one of the events listed at the top of the page, or make contact by telephone or email (details below).
Follow us on TwitterEast Midlands Branch's Twitter handle is @RailfutureEMids.
Tweets by RailfutureEMids
ContactFor a chat about membership, call Roger Bacon, 0115 921 7814
Email enquiries to Steve Jones, Branch Secretary, eastmidlands at railfuture.org.uk
Media enquiries to Ariadne Tampion, Branch Chair, 01509 211468, ariadne.tampion at railfuture.org.uk
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