die belebende Bedenkung

Viability of Midland Main Line electrification, part two

with 6 comments

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.

Network Rail said about half of 'long distance' passenger traffic on long distance Midland Main Line trains is to and from places 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.

Written by beleben

September 13, 2016 at 8:43 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

6 Responses

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  1. If only Matlock – Buxton re-opening and electrification was part of the scheme …


    September 13, 2016 at 8:55 am

  2. These are, of course, average load factors. From observation and experience in using the MML, there is a significant flow between South Yorkshire and London; usually, the ones leaving Derby just after eight and nine o’clock each morning can be described as “heaving” (both 7-car ‘Meridians’) and the quarter past eight HST is also very well filled, and I’ve experienced this being standing room only after Leicester. Saturday morning southbound trains are also well filled by the time they reach Derby – on one occasion last April, I tried to reserve seats on (I think) the Thursday night, and the earliest train on which seats were available in standard class was the 11.01and 12.01 in first!

    Coming north, there are some very lightly loaded trains during the early afternoon, but from about 4pm onwards they fill up, and are always very well filled as far as Leicester; they become less crowded north of that city, but there always seems to be a substantial number of people joining for stations further north.

    However, it has to be remembered that the MML is running well below capacity; trains are usually formed of single 4/5/7 car ‘Meridians’ or 8-car HSTs, but there are a couple which seem to be formed of two five car sets. So just be replacing the existing fleet with 10 or 11 car diesel trains would substantially increase the total number of seats provided each day.

    Regarding routing through Derby and not via the Erewash, the Derby – Leicester/London market on its own would be insufficient to justify a service to the city; moreover, it is currently the route between Trent and Clay Cross which has the shortest journey time, and this route’s advantage will increase when upgrades to the MML north of Derby and the Derby station area remodelling is completed.


    September 13, 2016 at 9:55 am

  3. A key benefit from having an electrified MML will be in its use as a diversionary option for WCML between Bletchley and Nuneaton, potentially enabling a blockade to deliver Hanslope and gauge clearance for ‘GC’/Berne gauge, and as such the infills of Bletchley-Bedford and Nuneaton-Wigston should be included.

    With a slightly greater cost the delivery of a new chord at Nuneaton – to connect back/across to Coventry/Rugby, and a short restoration on a long abandoned alignment to deliver a Watford-St Albans link would offer a clear parallel route for WCML services with relatively small time penalties

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    September 13, 2016 at 10:14 am

  4. […] September 2016 the Beleben blog suggested that “It is difficult to see how Midland [main line rail] […]

  5. […] 13 September 2016, the Beleben blog stated, “It is difficult to see how Midland electrification, in its present form, could ever be […]

  6. […] Beleben blogpost ‘Viability of Midland Main Line electrification part two’ of 13 September, 2016 — which stated, “It is difficult to see how Midland electrification, in its present […]

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