Answering a question from Harborough MP Mr Neil O'Brien, minister for rail Mr Andrew Jones told the British parliament that infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has been instructed to design an extension of electrification infrastructure from Kettering to Market Harborough station.

“The Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) extension to Market Harborough will enable a new connection to a power supply at Braybrooke,” Jones said. “At Outline Business Case stage in March 2018 this was determined to be the best value for money option for making the power supply connection. This will be tested again when the overall Midland Main Line programme Key Output 1a, of which Market Harborough electrification is a constituent part, is assessed at full business case stage.”

Electrification of the MML north of Bedford was announced in 2012, but work on the project was suspended in June 2015 pending a review into NR’s capital programme for the 2014-2019 funding period (Control Period 5). The suspension was lifted in September 2015, but the completion date was pushed back to 2019 for the line to Kettering and Corby, and 2023 for the remainder of the route to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced in July 2017 that it would ditch plans to electrify the MML following problems with electrification of the Great Western Main Line (GWML), with the cost of the project trebling from £800m in 2014 to £2.8bn in 2017 while deadlines were missed.

East Midlands franchise

DFT launched a tender for the East Midlands franchise, which will run from August 2019 until August 2027, in June 2018 with the winner expected to procure a fleet of bi-mode trains to operate inter-city services between London St Pancras, Nottingham and Sheffield. In February, DfT awarded Stagecoach Group a six month direct award management contract to continue operating on the East Midlands passenger franchise. The 2019-2027 franchise is due to be awarded in March or April with the new franchise starting on August 18.

East Midlands Councils said that combined with electrification between Clay Cross and Sheffield for High Speed 2 (HS2), the announcement means that 62% of the MML will be electrified over the next decade.

“Extending MML electrification from Kettering to the national grid supply point at Market Harborough is the first step towards giving the East Midlands the transport infrastructure it deserves,” says Ms Maria Machancoses, the director of Midlands Connect, the sub-national transport body for the region.

“The next steps include extending electrification to Leicester, Toton and Nottingham, to support Midlands Connect’s ambition for direct conventional compatible HS2 services between Leicester and Leeds and Nottingham and Leeds, via Toton.

“We are developing a business case for these links in collaboration with HS2 Ltd, and will continue to work closely with Transport for the East Midlands, other regional partners and the Department for Transport to ensure positive discussions continue.”