Viability of Midland Main Line electrification, part two
According to a July 2015 parliamentary answer given by Claire Perry MP, ‘initial work’ considering the overall Midland Main Line (MML) upgrade package, including electrification and other works
[Claire Perry, 2015-07-20]
indicates that for options which retain or improve fast intercity rolling stock, on all MML services the benefit cost ratio (BCR) would be in a range between 4.7 and 7.2 dependent on train length and train type.
From Ms Perry’s oddly-worded statement, there is no way of knowing the standalone benefit-cost of the electrification, or even the scope of the modernisation scheme.
According to Network Rail, there are just 13 million annual ‘long distance’ passenger trips on the Midland Main Line, and about half of them take place wholly between Northamptonshire and London.
As can be seen from Network Rail’s diagram (above), Yorkshire-to-London passenger volume is very small (which might explain why Sheffield trains are routed via Derby, rather than directly along the Erewash valley).
It is difficult to see how Midland electrification, in its present form, could ever be value for money. It might make sense if it were designed to cater for railfreight, and future passenger journeys from the West Riding and D2N2 to London. The government’s current intention is for such journeys to be transferred to the eastern leg of HS2.