Rail campaigners have given a cautious welcome to George Osborne's announcement today of transport investment in the Midlands. "Electrifying the line between Bristol and Derby through Birmingham would be very welcome and long overdue" said Bruce Williamson from the transport group Railfuture "but the Chancellor's commitment does seem a little vague. He has merely asked Network Rail to look at the case for electrification, and we want to know whether this is actually going to happen"
"This link would be an obvious next step, as the Great Western mainline through Bristol and the Midland mainline through Derby are going to be electrified, and this links the two. Further electrification means less reliance on diesel trains, and newer diesel trains freed up by this process might allow us to get rid of the much unloved Pacers."
"It's important that this investment doesn't come at the expense of other rail schemes, as there is a very strong case for infill electrification schemes in the North of England too. Network Rail's electrification team have their hands full with the Great Western and Midland mainline projects, and I wonder whether they have the capacity to deliver this extra work within a reasonable timescale. With an election just around the corner, we want to be reassured that this is a firm commitment are not something that can just quietly be dropped."
Notes to editors:
Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.
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For further information and comment please contact:
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media at railfuture.org.uk